A groundbreaking archive containing an array of Al Capone (1899-1947) memorabilia has sold for $23,582 at RR Auction (June 19).
The somewhat macabre documentary archive, which originally belonged to Capone's personal physician Kenneth Phillips, spans the American mobster's final years (1939-1945).
It contains an official copy of his death certificate, numerous funeral photographs of Capone "lying in state", 26 press releases, and a medical chart pertaining to Capone's final days.
The highlight of the collection, a child-like one-page letter handwritten by Capone to his doctor, in which the prohibition-era liquor bootlegger requests "2 boxes of them red pills for bowels movement", belies Capone's fierce reputation.
Capone signs the missive: "Truly yours, Al Capone".
Examples of Al Capone's handwriting are very rare and therefore highly sought after by collectors.
During the late stages of his life, Al Capone suffered irreversible mental collapse due to late-stage neurosyphilis, the consequence of venereal disease gone long-untreated. Medical notes from the period give Capone a developmental age of just seven.
The Mafioso's mythos remains a powerful cultural force. His dubious legacy evidently appeals to collectors internationally. Yet this particular archive debunks a number of myths, rendering the mobster a sickly, enfeebled man-child.
RR Auction comments: "The importance of the behind-the-scenes secrets this archive reveals cannot be understated. The fact that this infamous mobster - considered the bootlegging mastermind of the roaring 20s - was later reduced to the mental capacity of a child is almost inconceivable.
"This archive as a whole is a collector's dream… a virtual novella could be published with the copious personal details it contains."
We currently have a range of unique and thought-provoking items in stock, including this remarkable collection pertaining to the careers of Britain's famous family of hangmen, the Pierrepoints.