When Al Capone was locked up in Alcatraz, he played in a prison band called the Rock Islanders. He spent many an afternoon strumming his banjo and boasted that he could play hundreds of songs on his mandola (a cousin of the mandolin). The musical gangster penned his own lyrics and songs.
One of Capone’s original songs is now up for sale as part of the “Gangsters, Outlaws, and Lawmen” auction Saturday at the Royal Sonesta hotel in Cambridge. Boston-based RR Auction is conducting the auction.
Other items on the auction block include a diamond-studded pocket watch that was owned by Capone, the original 1933 arrest warrants for Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame, Meyer Lansky’s pocket watch, a Lucky Luciano autograph, a stock certificate signed by Bugsy Siegel, an assortment of vintage mugshots, and other gangster memorabilia.
Capone’s handwritten musical composition is expected to fetch upwards of $20,000. Titled “Humoresque,” Capone wrote out the music and lyrics for the song in pencil while he was in prison.
It goes like this: “Strains of hum-or-esque di-vine, you thrill and fill this heart of mine, with glad-ness like a sooth-ing sym-pho-ny. Over the air, you gent-ly float, and in my soul, you strike a note, of passion with your mel-o-dy. Sun-beams are play-ing, flow-ers and trees are sway-ing, cap-tured with-in your mag-ic spell. Lit-tle chil-dren are danc-ing, lov-ers are all ro-manc-ing, is it an-y won-der, ev-ry one is sing-ing, strains of hum-or-esque di-vine, you thrill and fill this heart of mine, with glad-ness like a sooth-ing sym-pho-ny. Over the air you gent-ly float, and in my soul, you strike a note, of pas-sion with your mel-o-dy.”
Pretty sensitive for someone like Capone.
“Although Capone is known to have played and written music during his time at Alcatraz, only two examples, ‘Madonna Mia’ and ‘Humoresque’ have come to light,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction. “It’s a tremendously rare piece.”
Capone’s diamond-studded pocket watch, which bears his initials, is estimated to sell for more than $25,000. It was made by the Illinois Watch Company, and the letters “AC” on it consist of 23 cut diamonds and are encircled by 26 more.
Online bidding for the “Gangsters, Outlaws, and Lawmen” auction has ended. The live auction is at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Royal Sonesta Boston in Cambridge. For more information, visit RR Auction at www.rrauction.com.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.