Al Capone’s property, now on the market, reveals two sides of the gangster

The first items offered for sale on the auction page of Al Capone’s possessions feature a loving family man.

There is a black and white picture of him and his mother beaming at each other. Then there’s a gold-framed picture of the gangster with his arm around his only child, Albert Francis, both elegantly dressed in fedoras and crisp suit jackets.

However, keep scrolling through the properties for sale on the Witherell’s Auction House website and even more sinister items appear, reminding potential buyers that while Capone was known to his grandchildren as a dad, he was also a violent mob boss , believed the man ordered the Valentine’s Day massacre in which seven men were killed by gangsters posing as police officers in a garage in Chicago.

The collection, titled “A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone,” also contains several of his firearms, including a 1911 Colt .45 pistol that has been dubbed Capone’s favorite. Live bidding won’t open until October 8, but there are already two six-figure deals on the Colt, said Brian Witherell, founder of Witherell’s.

It is a sign of the ongoing fascination with a gangster who has been dead for more than 70 years.

“This is going to be a big problem,” said Mr. Witherell. “We’ve been around long enough to know what’s going to happen, but that exceeds our highest expectations.”

Capone, known as Scarface, died in January 1947 at his mansion in Palm Island, Florida, of complications from a stroke and pneumonia. He was 48 years old.

His property stayed in the family and eventually went to the four daughters of Albert Francis Capone, known as Sonny.

One of the daughters, Diane Capone, said she and her two surviving sisters, all of whom live in and around Auburn, California, decided to sell the possessions because they got older and feared what might happen to the items if they did they were forced to flee quickly by wildfires that recently ripped through northern California.

“We have spent the last two summers with our suitcases at the door,” said Ms. Capone.

The 174 items in total also include furniture, clocks, a white and gold match envelope in which Capone kept matches for his cigars, and a letter he wrote to Sonny Capone from prison. Capone jewelry is also for sale, including diamond pins and an extravagant tie pin with the word “AL” set with diamonds.

Ms. Capone, 77, said she recognized that “there is a huge gap” between her grandfather’s personal life and his public life, which has been extensively described in newspapers, films and books.

“Do I know that he was responsible for many bad things or ordered his people to do bad things?” She said. “Yes, of course. But I am also aware that the man had multidimensional characteristics. He was able to separate his public life from his life as a father.”

Ms. Capone was 3 years old when her grandfather died, but she said she had clear memories of him reading to her, holding her on his lap and leading her through the villa gardens, pointing at flowers and figures while she was his Fingers clutched.

“He was very, very loving,” she said.

The son of Italian immigrants, Capone grew up in Brooklyn and was inspired to become a gangster as a teenager, according to a biography by Deirdre Bair. He was a shoeshine boy who watched gangsters knock down local traders and decided to start his own gang.

As an adult, he built his empire by selling liquor during the Prohibition Period, the period between 1920 and 1933 when alcoholic beverages were banned in the United States.

He made about $ 100 million a year, according to Harvard Business School researchers who said his strategies reflected “the destructive forms of American entrepreneurship in the early 20th century.”

Capone is believed to have been behind more than 200 deaths, including the death of a prosecutor. The height of the Chicago gang wars between Capone and his main rival George Moran, also known as Bugs, occurred on February 14, 1929. Seven men, most of Moran’s gang, were in a garage when four men burst in and canceled one Raid on. They ordered the men to stand against the wall and shot them.

Capone vacationing in Florida was not arrested, and some have expressed doubts that it was Capone who ordered the hit. He was never convicted of murder, but was convicted of tax evasion in 1931 and spent seven and a half years in federal prison.

During his incarceration, he worsened significantly due to paresis, a partial paralysis caused by syphilis, according to the FBI

After his release, he was hospitalized in Baltimore and then went to his Palm Island property. “He was mentally unable to return to gangland politics,” said the FBI.

Ms. Capone said she doubted this theory and believed that her grandfather was content to leave his former life behind.

She said her grandmother once described how former employees visited Capone after he returned from prison. As they left, Capone’s wife heard her say, “He’s crazy as a bug,” said Ms. Capone.

“My grandmother mentioned this to my grandfather, and Dad’s quote was, ‘Make them think what they want; it’s my ticket out, ‘”said Ms. Capone.

Sonny Capone eventually dropped the Capone name and moved to California. All of his daughters pursued careers in business or education, married, and had children, dropping the Capone name in favor of their husbands last names.

“It wasn’t that we were trying to live mysterious lives,” said Ms. Capone. “We just led a quiet life.”

Ms. Capone said she returned to her maiden name when she published a book about her grandfather based on the memories of his widow, Mae Capone.

She said she plans to donate a portion of her proceeds from the auction to charities like the local food bank. It was the kind of charity her grandfather supported, who sponsored soup kitchens during the Great Depression.

Ms. Capone said the dichotomy would always confuse her.

“I have no idea how a person could be able to live the public life that they did and be the family man that they were,” she said.