Want a piece of Al Capone?
His favorite pistol? Gold- and diamond-encrusted jewelry emblazoned with his initials? A letter Capone wrote from Alcatraz to his only son, Sonny?
Or, an end table or bed frame, perhaps?
They are among 174 items that will be auctioned Oct. 8 after the decision by Capone’s three surviving granddaughters to let go of a large chunk of their family’s history while they’re still alive to share the stories that go along with the items.
Diane Capone, the eldest granddaughter, said that while the world came to know him as “Scarface” and “Public Enemy Number One,” she knew him as “Papa” and wants people to know he was not all bad.
“I remember very distinctly holding onto Papa’s finger and he would walk me around the garden and point at different flowers and statues,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday.
Her father, Sonny Capone, was Al Capone’s only child.
“My most vivid memory is the day Papa died and my dad lifting me up onto his bed so I can kiss him. And he turned to me and he kissed me and he said ‘I love you baby girl,’ and those were his last words to me and they are indelibly imprinted in my mind.”
Fires that have threatened her home in the foothills of Northern California also motivated her to part ways with the items, many of which originated from Capone’s mansion on Palm Island, a short distance from Miami Beach, Florida.
Diane Capone, 77, is retired but formerly worked as an admissions counselor at a community college in Santa Clara.
The auction — dubbed “A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone” — is an invite-only affair at a private country club but will also accept online bids.
The starting bid is $50,000 for Capone’s .45-caliber Colt model 1911 semi-automatic pistol, his “favorite” weapon, according to the auction house.
When asked if she had any concerns her grandfather’s favorite gun or any other heirlooms might end up in the hands of nefarious folks who idolized Capone for the wrong reasons, she said it wasn’t something she’d thought about.
“Well, I certainly hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t really think there’s much chance of somebody who’s really a bad person having access to it, but I have no way of knowing. I just certainly hope to God nothing like that would ever happen,” she said.
Witherell’s, the auction house handling the sale, uses a licensed firearms dealer to assist in the sale and background check. “I think that it would go to a responsible high-end collector,” said Brian Witherell, who heads up the auction house.
When it comes to squaring the man she knew with the violent gangster the rest of the world knew, Diane Capone has no answers.
“It’s a conundrum,” she said. “Someday, when I get to heaven, maybe I’ll get to ask.”
On a side note, the home where Al Capone lived in Chicago, sits vacant at 7244 S. Prairie Ave., about four blocks east of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the Park Manor neighborhood.
Entrepreneur Duane Varan bought the brick two-flat in 2019 from a longtime owner who also lived on the property for $226,000 — more than double the asking price.
Varan, who is CEO of MediaScience, a media and advertising research company, didn’t return messages.
The real estate agent who helped Varan buy the Capone home said Varan had hoped to restore it and turn it into a Capone museum, but for a number of reasons, including the pandemic, the plan has stalled.
According to his company’s website, Varan, who does not live in Chicago, is working on a Broadway musical about Capone.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who lives across from Capone’s former home, said he hasn’t been in touch Varan about his plan, but he and other neighbors do not want the home to become more of a tourist attraction than it already is.
“We see people wandering the block looking lost and we just point at the home,” he said.
On Oct. 17, 1931, a jury convicted the notorious gangster of tax evasion in a federal court in Chicago. A few days later, on Oct. 24, the judge announced his sentence: 11 years and a $50,000 fine.
Following his release after serving seven years in prison, and suffering from advanced syphilis, Capone retreated to his Florida mansion with his wife, Mae, until his death in 1947.
Here are some other items up for auction: