Public Enemy #1's love letters could sell for €80k

French auctioneers Drouot will be holding a sale of books, manuscripts and autographs on January 30.

The highlight of the sale will be a large collection of letters signed by the notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine, Public Enemy Number One both in Canada and, later, his native France.

Mesrine's letters are addressed to his mistress, 20-year-old Jocelyne Deraiche, whom he met in Canada. Their affair lasted a year.

Mesrine signs his letters "Bruno", a name given to him by Jocelyne, while her's are signed "Joyce".

The pair's correspondence began in June 1973 after Mesrine's escape from the Court of Compiègne, France. Jocelyne was back in Canada. The letters end on 1 May 1978, a week before Mesrine's escape. He was later killed on November 2, 1979.

Mesrine's love letters will auction with an estimate of €60k-80k

The letters present Mesrine and Deraiche's love affair chronologically, in two stages.

The first part, 1973 to 1976, includes 111 letters signed by Mesrine to Joyce, to whom he wrote nearly every two days between June 1, 1973 and July 3, 1974.

There was an interruption from June 6 to October 22, 1973, between his escape from the Court of Compiègne and his rearrest.

The notes are full of passionate love, and show the complex personality of the notorious bank robber and kidnapper.

In his letters, Mesrine apparently recognises and abohors violence and injustice, and claims never to have done anything "dirty" while acknowledging himself as a mobster.

Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979)

Elsewhere in their correspondence, Mesrine gives Jocelyne advice on her life, expresses a desire to marry her, and shows a determination not to end his life in prison.

A second batch of letters presents 77 notes signed between April 12, 1977 and May 1, 1978. Sixty-three of these letters are decorated with coloured drawings.

The letters will be auctioned with a number of other documents, including colour photographs, a signed and undated dedication by Jocelyne, and photographs by Joycelyne of Mesrine's daughter Sabrina and their house in Venezuela.

A small medal gifted to Mesrine by Jocelyne, telegrams sent between the pair and books on Mesrine signed by Jocelyne will also be included in the sale.

The full set will auction with an estimate of €60,000-80,000.

Despite his violent and criminal escapades - including a self-professed 39 murders - the press often attempted to portray Mesrine as a romantic rogue during his lifetime.

His life shares parallels with another notorious Public Enemy Number One, the US Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger, who was gunned down by the FBI in 1934.

Various Dillinger memorabilia items have sold throughout 2009 - most recently a wooden replica gun he used in a bank robbery, for a staggering $19k.



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