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Al Capone Auction: Memorabilia Reveals Gangster's Syphilis, Dementia, and Deterioration

Capone Had the 'Mental Capacity of a 7-Year-Old'; Collection Worth $50,000?

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
June 3, 2013|3:52 pm

An Al Capone auction will feature many pieces of memorabilia from the last stages of the gangster's life, including signed photos, handwritten notes, medical documentation, and other correspondence that reveals his battle with syphilis. Capone died in 1947 in Alactraz prison facility.

The Al Capone auction offers an "exceptional archive originating from Capone's doctor- complete with a signed photo and a virtually nonexistent handwritten letter- and fascinating private medical correspondence which sheds light upon Capone's battle with neurosyphilis," RR Auction House, who is in charge of the sale, wrote.

Though autographed items from celebrities today may fluctuate in value, Capone mementos continue to become more rare- he hardly had many flocking to him for a signature in his last days. Collectors seem to know this, because as of Monday, bids have exceeded 14,000, Bobby Livingston of RR Auctions told the New York Daily News.

"Even though he was a famous figure in Chicago, Capone wasn't the kind of guy you walked up to and asked for an autograph" Livingston explained, referencing the gangster's infamous "Chicago Outfit," known for their bootlegging. "The typical buyer of Capone items- documents, depositions- are autograph collectors. His signature is very, very rare."

The entire collection spanning 1938 to 1947 belonged to Dr. Kenneth Phillips and chronicled when Capone was facing the worst of syphilis, which he contracted when he was younger. Dementia and delusions took their toll on the once-fearsome thug, and the memorabilia showed that doctors tried multiple solutions to keep him from spiraling further downward.

By the time he was paroled, "[Capone] has the mental capacity of a seven-year-old," Livingston said, with evidence showing doctors tried to "raise his body temperature in an attempt to fight the syphilis." Capone was convinced rival crime boss Bugs Moran was trying to kill him even while he languished in his jail cell.

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Making the collection even more valuable are some of the last photos available of Capone: one with his wife Mae, son Sonny, and Sonny's wife Ruth in Florida; another shows the Mafiosi dead in his $2,000 bronze casket. He died at 48.

The bidding for the collection ends June 19. Livingston expects it to bring in between $40,000 and $50,000.

 

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