Famous gangsters’ guns featured in Vandenbrook auction Aug. 8

Gangsters’ guns

Bonnie and Clyde, the Depression-era bank robbers, reportedly used this Winchester shotgun at a deadly shootout with police. The firearm will be auctioned in Tampa on Aug. 8. Vandenbrook Galleries image

TAMPA, Fla. (PRNewswire) – Tampa, Florida, auction house Vandenbrook Galleries will liquidate a historic gun collection that includes firearms attributed to Bonnie and Clyde and George Kelly Barnes, aka Machine Gun Kelly, as well as multiple German Lugers obtained from the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum after Norway acquired the handguns in World War II. Over 100 other historically important and collectible military and other firearms from a billionaire’s personal collection will be on the auction block online and in-person on Saturday, Aug. 8. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Depression-era bank robbers, reportedly used a Winchester shotgun at a deadly police shootout. The firearm will be auctioned in Tampa on Aug. 8. Reports surrounding the original sale to the collector state that Missouri police seized the Model 1897 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun attributed to Bonnie and Clyde on April 13, 1933, after a deadly shootout with the couple in Joplin. Bonnie and Clyde escaped, but two officers died in the shootout. Police found the shotgun upon raiding an apartment where the couple was hiding out. Paperwork accompanying the shotgun reports that a police officer later gave the shotgun to Mark Lairmore, who was a Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer, and that it remained in the Lairmore family. A police museum in Springfield, Missouri, displayed the gun from 1973 until late 2011, and it was auctioned in January 2012.

Other records attribute a John Price single-shot, 12-gauge shotgun to 1930s American gangster Machine Gun Kelly, used by Kelly during the kidnapping of an oil tycoon. This gun to be auctioned carries the marking “Boss Shannon,” a Machine Gun Kelly relative by marriage. Machine Gun Kelly’s mother-in-law, Ora Shannon, gave the shotgun to Benny Binion, owner of the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. Shannon owned the Wise County ranch house “where Boss Shannon and Machine Gun Kelly kept Charles Urschel (the hostage) when they kidnapped him.” The shotgun was kept in Benny Binion’s vault until 1985 when Binion gave it to Billy Bob Barnett of Billy Bob’s Texas, the “biggest honky-tonk in Texas.” The collection up for auction in August acquired the shotgun in 1994 from Barnett with a historic letter of authenticity from Tex Whitson, former Binion’s Horseshoe Casino public relations director, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and music manager for Merle Haggard and George Jones.

Gangsters’ guns

The John Price single shot 12 gauge shotgun, once owned by gangster Machine Gun Kelly, carries a $28,000-$50,000 estimate. Vandenbrook Galleries image

The estate also includes acquisition records kept by the collector, including the provenance related to three German Lugers reportedly surrendered by the Germans to Norwegian authorities during World War II. These pistols were imported into Canada upon acquisition from the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum in Oslo.


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