Gangster Memorabilia Finds its Mark at Auction

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On Saturday, July 24, at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boston-based RR Auction held a robst sale of memorabilia relating to notorious mobsters and outlaws like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and John Dillinger.                                                                                                           

High spots included Capone’s ritzy platinum watch made by the Illinois Watch company. The timepiece exceeded its $25,000 pre-sale estimate, fetching a hammer price of $84,375.00. Manufactured between 1928 and 1929, the watch contains seventy-two cut diamonds, a platinum face, and an original 12 inch watch chain made of 14k white gold. The reverse of the case reveals the initials “AC,” itself consisting of twenty-three cut diamonds and surrounded by twenty-six others. The watch was accompanied by an affidavit from Capone’s great-grandson, Eric Griese, detailing its provenance.

A signed demurrer (a legal document objecting to an opponent’s point) relating to a case between Capone and the State of Florida failed to meet its pre-sale estimate of $30,000, realizing $19,375.00. The document probably related to a raid on Capone’s Palm Island mansion in 1930 and highlights Capone’s constant run-ins with the law.

Two life-size reproductions of John Dillinger’s death masks realized $406.25. Four plaster masks were believed to have been made of the outlaw, with two remaining in existence. The day after Dillinger was shot and killed by Chicago police, his remains were visited by over one thousand visitors at the Chicago morgue.

Crime may not pay, but it sure makes for exciting auctions--check out all the results at rrauctions.com.

About the Author

Barbara Basbanes Richter

Barbara Basbanes Richter writes for Fine Books & Collections magazine and Art & Object. She’s also a professional ghostwriter.  

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