Weekly News Roundup: June 20 to June 24

Headlines in art, auction and collectibles news include a gangster’s gun, inside gangster info and a violin playing a profitable tune for charity.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Al Capone’s gun could net $100,000 at auction

If the .38-caliber Colt Police Special manufactured in 1929 had been owned by a garbage collector, its worth in today’s market probably wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. But when it was owned by Al Capone, that’s a completely different story. In a sworn affidavit, Scarface’s sister said the rod belonged to her brother. Now the piece might bring in more than $100,000. Alphonse Gabriel Capone could have used that to pay his income tax and stay out of jail.

From The Associated Press via NPR:
Old Mafia File Going On NY Auction Block

There’s more nefarious-figures news. Back in the ’90s, a fellow got into a New York City cab. On the seat was a thick file labeled “Mafia” and “United States Treasury Department Bureau of Narcotics.” The passenger took the binder, which contained data on Mafia figures ranging from Lucky Luciano to Carlo Gambino that the Bureau of Narcotics had compiled. The anonymous finder let HarperCollins publishers bring out a facsimile a few years ago, which was called “a treasure trove for true-crime buffs and mob aficionados” by author Nicholas Pileggi. You can guess where this is going. The file is being auctioned by Bonhams this week with a presale estimate of up to $15,000.

From Reuters:
Stradivarius fetches record $16 million in charity sale

A Stradivarius violin once owned by Lord Byron’s granddaughter hit a sweet note at auction this week. It’s not an understatement to say it shattered the previous record set 40 years ago. That was $135,000. This one—$16 million. Proceeds will aid the Japanese tsunami and earthquake relief efforts.

From Reuters:
Safra collections sale expected to raise $40 million

Another auction for a good cause is coming up in October. Edmund Safra came from a Lebanese banking family and amassed a fortune in his own right with Republic National Bank in New York and the Trade Development Bank in Geneva. It was the circumstances surrounding his death in 1999, however, that created fodder for headlines and speculation. So much so that “Law and Order” loosely based an episode on it. Safra and one of his nurses died of smoke inhalation after it is believed they hid in a bathroom to escape armed intruders. Another nurse was arrested and convicted of arson. There was talk of the widow’s second husband dying under questionable circumstances and bodyguards being given the night off. But all that was then. This is now, and the widow, Lily Safra, is auctioning items from their sizable collection of art, silver and furniture to benefit the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, which focuses on education, medical research, cultural institutions and other areas. Money raised will go to the foundation.

From the Herald Sun (Australia):
‘Worthless’ painting sells for $US1.2m

It’s another of those stories . . . An elderly, former lumberjack was downsizing. Among some items he sent to a Swedish auction house was a large painting his wife had left him. The auction house put it up for sale on the Internet figuring it might bring in a few hundred dollars. Their interest was piqued when there was an undue amount of interest online. Off the painting went to be examined by specialists. They verified that it was by Russian artist Ivan Aivazovsky. Instead of selling for hundreds of dollars, it went for more than $1 million.

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