356% profit made in under a year on Al Capone's personal Colt revolver

Well, there you have it. The personal shooter of mobster Alphonse 'Al' Capone, also known as Scarface, has been sold for a stunning £67,250 ($109,080) at Christie's in London.

The classic American gangster, recreated in several TV and movie versions, is one of a handful of criminals to have obtained iconic status in either American or worldwide minds.

The likes of Jesse James, John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone and perhaps the Unabomber have all created an image for themselves which encourages their recreation on screen. Bernie Madoff, though not a killer, has generated notoriety too.

Though they are from different eras, and some are/were more unpleasant than others, their collectibles are all desirable.

So it always seemed to us to be a bargain when someone bought Capone's personal .38 (special) 'police positive' nickel-plated six-shot double-action revolver for $20,000 ($23,900 with buyer's premium) last year at Alexander Autographs - a damp squib for the auctioneer in an otherwise successful sale.

Al Capone's 384221 Colt police special revolver
Capone's 384221 Colt police special turned out to be very special indeed

As soon as it was offered at Christie's, it looked like the listing of £50,000-70,000 ($81,100 - $113,540) was a more appropriate one.

With better publicity ahead of the sale, the stage was set, and yesterday it was confirmed that the owner (presumably the October 2010 buyer) had pulled a blinder.

The revolver was sold for nearly five times what was paid for it - a 356% profit. Even allowing for some hidden costs, this is an extraordinary result and demonstration of the power of collectibles as alternative investments if the buyer is canny.

Following on from news that a dealer has resold a Concorde nose cone for £100,000 after buying it for £55,000 on British TV less than a month earlier, a profit of £45,000 ($72,750), reports of Al Capone's gun sale will have investors poring through auction catalogues everywhere.

If you're one of them, why not take a look at our investment pages for some tips?


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