‘A Loving Father’: Al Capone’s Family Hope Auction Humanizes Him | Chicago


It was Christmas Day in 1946 when notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone took his wife and four granddaughters for a walk on the dock of their sprawling mansion in Palm Island, Florida.

One photo shows “Papa”, as they called him, savoring his freedom after being released from Alcatraz where he served more than seven years on tax evasion charges.

This photo is one of 174 items belonging to the Capone family that will be auctioned Friday in Sacramento, California.

Items range from personal photographs and guns to pocket watches and jewelry as well as furniture and kitchen utensils.

Diane Capone, Al Capone’s granddaughter, talks about her memories of him while holding a photo of them and other family members, taken in 1946. Photograph: Fred Greaves / Reuters

Al Capone’s platinum and diamond Patek Philippe pocket watch is priced between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000, while his favorite Colt .45 pistol is expected to sell for $ 100,000 to $ 150,000. A hand-colored vintage gelatin silver print of Al and his son, Sonny Capone, is expected to range from $ 10,000 to $ 15,000.

Diane Capone, 77, the second of Al Capone’s four granddaughters, said the decision to sell the items was based on her aging and that of her sisters, as well as the growing threat of wildfires for their homes in northern California.

Brian Witherell, director of consignments at Witherell’s Auction House, said nearly 1,000 bidders have registered for the auction from all US states and 11 countries.

A letter to Sonny Capone from his father.
A letter to Sonny Capone from his father. Photograph: Fred Greaves / Reuters

“The objects that generate the most interest are the ones you consider to be synonymous with a gangster character like Al Capone, his guns and his flaming costume jewelry,” he said.

Diane Capone has said she hopes these articles will emphasize the human side of her grandfather, instead of the ruthless violence that plagued Chicago in the 1920s for which he became infamous.

The item that best illustrates this, she said, was a personal letter Al Capone wrote to her son, Sonny Capone, from Alcatraz, estimated to be between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000.

“It’s such a charming letter, and it’s a letter that conveys a side of this man that the vast majority of people have no idea about,” she said. “These are not the words or the ideas of a man who is a ruthless gangster. These are the words of a loving father.

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