Chicago gangster Al Capone’s “favorite” Colt .45-caliber pistol was the top draw at a California auction, selling for $1 million.
Billed as an “undisturbed time capsule” of Capone’s estate, the auction held late Friday at a private club in Sacramento, California, had nearly 1,500 registered bidders and 56 who attended in person to spend more than $3.1 million altogether, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The biggest-ticket item was Capone’s “favorite” Colt .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol that sold for $860,000 — or $710,000 more than the top initial estimate. With a 21 percent buyer’s premium added in, the buyer will pay $1,040,600, which is believed to be the highest price for a 20th century firearm sold at auction, the Tribune reported.
Capone’s Colt .38-caliber semi-automatic blue pistol with smooth wood grips was the next top draw, selling for $242,000 with the included buyer’s premium — well-above the initial top estimate of $60,000.
The collection from Sacramento-based auction house Witherell’s – dubbed “A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone” – also included the notorious gangster’s prized platinum and diamond Patek Philippe pocket watch. Estimated to bring in $50,000, the timepiece sold for $190,000, or $229,000 with the 21-percent fee.
Other family heirlooms, such as two photographs of Capone’s son, Sonny, were scooped up for as little as $100. Every lot of items included a notarized signature of one of Capone’s three surviving granddaughters, Barbara, the Tribune reported
Diane Patricia Capone, who was three when her grandfather died in 1947 from a heart attack in Florida, told the newspaper she wasn’t surprised that most of the items sold well-above pre-auction estimates.
“I know that that’s the figure the appraiser has given us, but the back story all along has been people saying, ‘Oh, that’s way underpriced. It’s going to go for much higher,’” she told the Tribune. “So I can’t say I was terribly shocked or surprised that it went for considerably more.”
Capone said she was stirred when several lots of items belonging to her grandmother, Mae Capone, went up for bidding.
“In fact, my sister and I were sitting next to each other when they were showing my grandmother’s china and crystal, my sister and I were holding hands and I got really teary,” she told the Tribune.
After a break in the bidding, women working the phones during the auction came over to Capone and her sister, telling them, “We got so emotional watching you,” she recalled.
Most buyers’ identities were kept private, although a minority owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Kevin Nagle, bought Al and Mae Capone’s decorative cigar humidor with a walnut veneer for $145,200. He also dropped $21,780 for another humidor and a set of two accompanying chairs.
Bidding was “intense” for the cigar holders, Nagle said, adding that the vibe was “incredible” as bids were tossed around for Capone’s sought-after firearms.
“It was really exciting,” Nagle told the Tribune. “There was a lot of history that we were bidding on and there were people from all over the world participating online. It’s really amazing.”
Nagle also purchased Capone’s yellow gold and platinum belt buckle for $27,225, which he’ll keep at his ranch in Montana along with the humidors as “great conversational pieces,” he said.
Capone, the larger-than-life Brooklyn-born mobster also known as “Scarface,” was dubbed Public Enemy No. 1 following the 1929 “Valentine’s Day Massacre” of seven members of rival bootlegger Bugs Moran’s gang.
Capone was later convicted of income tax evasion in 1934 and spent 11 years in federal prison at Alcatraz before dying at 48 in 1947 in the Florida home where he and his Chicago Outfit associates were thought to have plotted the 1929 killings.
With Post wires
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