A Colt .45-caliber pistol with a wooden handle and elegant engravings raised the most money of the 174 items auctioned this weekend by Al Capone’s three granddaughters. The firearm offered by the Witherells house in Sacramento was sold for more than a million dollars, almost a third of what was obtained by the relatives of the legendary mobster from the United States. The Colt with a weathered grip, hailed by his heiresses as the favorite pistol of a criminal known for his violence and believed to have ordered some 200 murders in the mob war a century ago, has been the most coveted weapon in the bidding. Family photographs, jewelry, and the arsenal of Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1 were also featured.
Kevin Nagle, a Northern California businessman and sports gambler, was explaining this weekend why he was bidding for a fancy wood-veneer cigar humidor. “It is part of the history of the United States … and it fits perfectly in a ranch that I have in Montana,” he said to The San Francisco Chronicle. Nagle paid more than $ 140,000 for the piece, which had a starting price of $ 5,000.
The organizer, Brian Witherell, a character known for his participation in an antiques program on PBS, a public channel, admitted that the event exceeded all expectations. The auction was expected to raise between $ 400,000 and $ 700,000, but ended up raising more than three million dollars thanks to a thousand participants from around the world who tried to take home a piece of the life of the most famous gangster, who became a millionaire with empire criminal who annually earned more than 1,000 million current dollars thanks to the prohibition of the sale of alcohol between 1920 and 1933.
Capone was a public figure whose real life always surpassed the various fictional adaptations. Cut-face, as he was called, he liked to dress well in the most elegant tailored suits in town and with luxurious rings and jeweled accessories. In the pockets of his wardrobe he carried bills that he used to leave as generous tips or gifts to whoever fed his ego on the streets of Chicago.
It was no surprise to Witherell that the gun became the most fought item of the night. In August, when the lots that made up the auction were published, bids for Colt began to arrive. Some of them already had six digits. The Patek Phillipe pocket watch with 90 diamonds forming the initials of the man who ordered the Valentine’s Day massacre, where gangsters dressed as police officers murdered rivals, sold for $ 229,000. His razor, also adorned with diamonds, was close to $ 80,000.
The objects that were put up for sale were inherited by Capone, who died in 1947 due to syphilis contracted in his own brothels, to his wife Mae. This, in turn, left everything to Sonny, the only child of the couple. The objects were for years in the Florida mansion, which was put up for sale in 2014. Another of the highest paid objects was a letter that Capone wrote on October 5, 1939 to Sonny from the famous Alcatraz prison, to which It came when the United States government began a new strategy to behead criminal organizations: accuse them of not paying taxes on their profits. In the three-page handwritten document there is an intimate and caring tone of the bloody man who ordered the murder, among several subjects, of reporters and their mentor, in New York.
“To my dear son, son of my heart, here is your dear father, who loves you with all his soul and is proud to have a son as intelligent as you,” reads the first written lines while Capone awaited his transfer to a Chicago jail. The letter was sold for $ 56,000.
Capone’s granddaughters, Sonny’s septuagenarian daughters, have tried to exploit the warmer face of criminal legend. “He was a man very dedicated to his family, very committed to it,” said Diane Capone, 77, one of the criminal’s relatives, who along with her sisters lives a low-key life in a small northern town. Of California. “We decided it was time to let the public have this,” said Diane, who posted in 2019. Al Capone: Stories My Grandmother Told Me. “It is hard to believe that some things they have told us about their public life were done by the same person that I knew as a loving grandfather,” Capone confessed to The San Francisco Chronicle.
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