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Saturday, 4 June 2011

handgun that once belonged to notorious Chicago gangster Al "Scarface" Capone will be auctioned on June 22 and is expected to fetch more than $100,000.

11:23 | , , ,

handgun that once belonged to notorious Chicago gangster Al "Scarface" Capone will be auctioned on June 22 and is expected to fetch more than $100,000.

Leonie Ashfield, a spokeswoman for the fine arts auction house Christie's, told AOL Weird News that the nickel-plated .38 Special belongs to a private collector. The historic pistol will be the first item belonging to the pudgy ex-mobster that Christie's has auctioned in at least a decade.

"We've had film memorabilia but nothing related to the actual Al Capone that's coming up [on my computer] in the last 10 years," Ashfield said.

Capone, who was once king of the Chicago rackets, was a Prohibition-era gangster who ruled a multimillion-dollar empire of illegal booze, gambling and prostitution in the 1920s. Capone's reign as ruler of Chicago's gangland ended in 1931 when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and prohibition charges.

After serving seven years and six months in federal prison, which included a stay at Alcatraz, Capone was paroled on Nov. 16, 1939. By that time, however, he suffered from paresis derived from syphilis. Capone went into seclusion at an estate near Miami, Fla., where he died of a stroke and pneumonia on Jan. 25, 1947.

Since Capone's death, many of his belongings have made their way into auction houses:

In 1971, a bullet-proof 1928 Cadillac that Capone owned sold at auction for $37,000. According to the Nov. 21, 1971, issue of the Daytona Beach Morning Journal, the winning bid was roughly $8,000 more than the price paid for President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Lincoln Continental sedan.
In 1982, a rare signed photo of Capone sold at auction for $4,250. The previous high price for a 20th century photograph at that time was a signed picture of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, which went for $3,200.
In 1992, a Christmas card signed by Capone netted $3,600 at an auction, and a mounted sailfish labeled "Caught by Al Capone, March 1929," sold for $5,200, according to the Gainesville Sun.
According to Ashfield, Capone's six-shot, double-action Colt revolver is expected to net more than $100,000, a hefty sum comparable to the $95,600 a California collector paid in 2009 for a pistol that once belonged to Depression-era gangster and bank robber John Dillinger.

"That is what we estimate the market value to be," Ashfield said.

Christie's has Colt records that indicate the pistol was manufactured in May 1929, "a significant date in Capone's life -– the same year as the famous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre," according to the auction house.

Along with the handgun, the winning bidder will receive an original personal letter from Madeleine Capone Morichetti, the widow of Capone's brother, Ralph Capone, along with an affidavit sworn by her in March 1990. The documents, the auction house states, affirm the gun "previously belonged to and was only used by Al Capone while he was alive."

Capone's revolver will be sold alongside several other items dating from the 10th century to the 20th century, including arms, armor and military items. Among them is another notable gun being sold by a private collector: a .44 six-shot revolver that was once owned by Cole Younger, a member of the 19th-century James-Younger Gang, which included legendary outlaw Jesse James.

According to Ashfield, the auction is already drawing significant interest.

"The catalog for the sale will not be out until next week, but several international collectors [have called] to request more [information]," she said.

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