Top 10 Most Expensive Outlaw Memorabilia
A list of the most valuable memorabilia ever sold relating to history's most notorious outlaws and gangsters.
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10) Pretty Boy Floyd’s shoelace
Charles Arthur ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd was a notorious bank robber who operated across the Midwest during the late 1920s/early 1930s. Despite killing numerous police officers during his exploits, he was viewed positively by many people as a modern-day Robin Hood – due in part to his habit of destroying mortgage documents whilst robbing banks, freeing people from their debts during the Great Depression. He was shot and killed in 1934 Ohio by local law officers and FBI agents, who had named him ‘Public Enemy No.1’. The local Police Chief took his suit and shoes as souvenirs following his autopsy, but was forced to return them by the FBI. A single shoelace escaped confiscation, and almost 80 years later sold at Heritage in 2011 for $717. (Image: Heritage)
9) Belle Star photograph
Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr, AKA Belle Starr, was known as the ‘Bandit Queen’ due to her relationships with notorious outlaws. A childhood friend of Jesse James, Starr married the outlaw Jim Reed (killed in 1874) before becoming the wife of Cherokee outlaw Sam Starr in 1880. Their home became a famous hideout for many of the era’s most famous gunslingers, and Starr herself was shot in the back in 1889. Her murder remained unsolved, and her reputation grew thanks to an exaggerated dime store novel which described her as the ‘female Jesse James’. This highly rare photograph of Starr sold at Heritage in 2009 for $10,755. (Image: Heritage)
8) John Dillinger’s ‘Double Derringer’ pistol
John Dillinger was a charismatic and daring bank robber who captured the imagination of the country during the early 1930s. His charm, style and use on non-violent methods led many to see him as a folk-hero, who robbed two dozen banks and four police stations. After escaping from jail twice, he was eventually turned in by brothel owner Ana Cump?na? and was killed upon leaving the Biograph Theatre in Chicago in July 1934. A Remington .41 Caliber Rimfire ‘Double Derringer’ pistol, taken from Dillinger during an arrest in Arizona in January 1934, sold at Heritage Auctions in July 2009 for $95,600. (Image: Heritage)
7) Ned Kelly’s shoulder armour
Ned Kelly is Australia’s most famous outlaw, regarded in equal measures as murderer and a folk hero. After an incident at his home in 1878, Kelly was pursued into the Bush by local police and went into hiding with three colleagues. The gang then killed three police officers and robbed two banks, before being captured at the ‘Battle of Glenrowan’ in which Kelly wore his iconic home-made metal armour. He was hung for his crimes in 1880, and was later portrayed on-screen by Mick Jagger. A shoulder-piece from his home-made armour sold at Christie’s in Melbourne for A$196,750 ($99,773).
6) Al Capone’s .38 revolver
Al Capone was the notorious leader of a Prohibition-era crime syndicate in Chicago, who ran everything from bootleg liquor to prostitutes. He maintained a high public profile, donating large sums to charity and appearing at celebrity events, but was later allegedly involved in 1929 execution of rival gang members known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre and eventually convicted of tax evasion. He famously spent time in Alcatraz before deteriorating due to neurosyphilis and died of a heart attack in 1947. A .38 (Special) 'Police Positive' revolver once owned by Capone and passed down to his brother sold at Christie’s in June 2011 for £67,250 ($109,080). (Image: Christie's)
5) Butch Cassidy's Colt.45
Butch Cassidy (real name Robert Leroy Parker) was the leader of the infamous Wild Bunch gang who robbed banks and trains throughout the late 19th century. After evading capture by the Pinkerton Agency, Cassidy and his partner in crime Harry Alonzo Longabaugh (AKA The Sundance Kid) fled to South America in hopes of retiring. Legend has it that the pair were killed by Bolivian soldiers after robbing a local mining company, but rumours that they survived and returned quietly to the US have persisted to this day. In 2012 a Colt SAA.45 pistol formerly owned by Cassidy sold at California Auctioneers for **$175,000.***(Image: California Auctioneers)*
4) Jesse James ‘revenge’ letter
Jesse James is one of the most famous figures of the Old West, a former Confederate guerrilla who robbed dozens of banks, trains and stagecoaches with different gangs. Following a lengthy pursuit by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, James was eventually killed in 1882 by Robert Ford – a member of his own gang who hoped to claim the bounty on his head. Already famous in his lifetime, James has become an almost legendary figure in American history. A letter written by James in 1875, swearing revenge on the Pinkerton men who killed his half-brother and maimed his mother with a smoke bomb, sold at Christie’s in 2004 for $175,000. (Image: Christie's)
3) Clyde Barrow’s Colt pistol
Bonnie and Clyde are two of history’s most notorious outlaws, a young couple who became famous across the US during the early 1930s. Their gang was responsible for numerous bank and gas station robberies, and the murder of several civilians and nine police officers. The couple were eventually ambushed by a posse in Louisiana, and shot so many times the local mortician had trouble embalming them. Posse leader Frank Hamer took several souvenirs from the pair, including this 1911 Army Colt .45 Pistol found tucked inside Barrow’s waistband. It sold at RR Auction in September 2012 for $240,000. (Image: RR Auction)
2) Bonnie Parker’s revolver
Bonnie Parker’s reputation as a fearsome gangster’s moll was based almost entirely on a series of playful photographs found at the gang’s hideout in 1933, in which she poses with a machine gun and Barrow’s cigar. In reality, although she took part in the crimes it is doubtful whether she ever fired at anyone. Along with Clyde Barrow’s pistol, former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer took Parker’s Colt Detective Special .38 revolver as a memento of the ambush. This pistol was discovered taped to her inner thigh, hidden away from the prying hands of a police search, and later sold at RR Auction in 2012 for $264,000. (Image: RR Auction)
1) Billy the Kid photograph
William H. Bonney, otherwise known as Billy the Kid, is perhaps the most famous outlaw of the Old West. Rumoured to have killed anywhere between 8 and 25 men, Bonney’s exploits have become the stuff of legend. He was killed by his alleged close friend and famous lawman Pat Garrett at the age of just 22, and passed into American lore. In June 2011 the only-known photograph of Billy the Kid in existence was sold at Brian Lebel’s Old West Show & Auction. It realized an incredible $2.3 million, making it one of the most expensive photographs of all time. (Image: Wikipedia)
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