Alfonse (Al) Capone was one of the most notorious American gangsters of the 20th century. Also known as Scarface, Capone was the inspiration for many books and movies based on his time with The Chicago Outfit, an organized crime syndicate in Chicago… Capone was the boss from 1925-1931. Many of his prized possessions just crossed the auction block.
While the government was unable to prosecute him for most of his crimes, Al Capone was finally indicted and convicted for tax evasion in 1931 – he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. While in prison he was diagnosed with syphilis, which had gone untreated for years. By 1939, Capone’s medical condition had significantly deteriorated, and he was given an early release from prison for medical treatment.
Eventually, Capone and his wife, Mae, retired to Florida where he lived out his remaining years. Many of his most prized belongings were passed down to their son, Sonny, who in turn left them to his four daughters.
As Capone’s granddaughters are advancing in age (and one has passed), they decided it was time to auction off some of the heirlooms so they could share their stories of their grandfather. In total, 174 lots were offered, including personal photographs, letters, firearms, jewelry, and furniture. Among the collection were 16 guns, two of which blew away their estimates and had the highest prices in the sale.
Capone’s Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol took the top spot… estimated to make $100-150K, it sold for $860K ($1.04 million w/p); this is believed to be the highest auction price paid for a 20th century handgun. His Colt Model 1908, a hammerless semi-automatic pistol, was estimated at $30-40K; it hammered down at $200K ($242K w/p). Rounding out the top three lots was Capone’s platinum and diamond Patek Philippe pocket watch. It was not working, missing parts, and rusting in areas, but it still had a solid estimate of $25-50K… when it was time for the watch to hit the block, it struck a final price of $190K ($229.9K w/p).
With over one thousand registered bidders for this sale, it is not surprising how well it did. When the sale as a whole was tallied, buyers spent just over $3.1M; not bad for some old family treasures of America’s Public Enemy No. 1!