Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has launched legal action against a firm he has accused of failing to properly sell him a World War II German panzer tank.
Don't worry, Allen hasn't gone all tinfoil hat and decided to start a militia. He merely wants to buy a rare German tank for the collection of the Flying Heritage Collection museum in Everett, Washington.
In a court filing, his company Vulcan Warbirds claimed it had handed over $2.5m to buy a super rare, 28-ton Panzerkampfwagen IV – best known to WWII aficionados as the Panzer IV, dreaded foe of Allied armour the world over.
But Allen's firm alleged it had not received the panzer after striking a deal with American Auctions, which was overseeing the sale.
"Warbirds has been seeking to find a Panzer IV Tank for over five years," the filing said. "Panzer IV Tanks are extremely rare and rarely are available for sale. Once acquired, the Panzer IV Tank will be on display at the museum."
Vulcan Warbirds allegedly tried to buy the armoured machine from a non-profit organisation called the Collings Foundation, which runs the Littlefield Collection, a well-known cache of old military equipment in Portola Valley, California.
A deal had been agreed, the court papers alleged, but Allen's company said it did not receive the Panzer after a "complete about-face" by the Foundation.
According to the allegations in the court documents, director Rob Collings agreed to only hand over the tank after he had found a "an equivalent piece".
"It's very historically significant," said Collings. It's the most produced German tank of World War II. There's only two privately owned such vehicles in the United States. It's got a lot of historical significance to it."
"We do not have an agreement to sell a Panzer IV to Paul Allen or Flying Heritage Collection or Vulcan or any of his companies," Collings continued. "I heard the comment made from someone at Flying Heritage Collection that this was a case of sellers' remorse. No it was not. We didn't ever sell it."
Vulcan Warbirds also issued the following statement:
"Auctions America has failed to honor our agreement and yesterday we sued it and the Collings Foundation, the former owner of the tank, to enforce our contract. We look forward to restoring the Panzer IV Tank and having it join our Sherman tank and other historic military aircraft and vehicles at the Flying Heritage Collection." ®