Big bucks for Bonnie and Clyde guns

2012-01-22 14:43

Kansas City - Two guns believed seized from gangsters Bonnie and Clyde in 1933 after a deadly Missouri shootout with police sold for a combined $210 000 at an auction on Saturday in Kansas City to an unnamed online bidder.

The bidder paid $130 000 for a .45-calibre Thompson submachine gun, commonly called a "Tommy gun." The same bidder paid $80 000 for an 1897 12-gauge Winchester shotgun.

"We're happy," said auctioneer Robert Mayo, owner of Mayo Auction & Realty, which held the auction attended by more than 100 people. As for the bid prices, Mayo said, "Nothing ever surprises me."

The guns were seized after a police shootout with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in Joplin, Missouri, on April 13 1933. Police raided an apartment where the couple was hiding out. Bonnie and Clyde escaped, but two officers died in the shootout.

A police officer later gave the weapons to Mark Lairmore, a Tulsa police officer, and they remained in the Lairmore family, according to a Mayo account of the guns' history.

Museum pieces

A great-grandson of Lairmore, also named Mark Lairmore, said the family no longer saw a need for the guns, which had been in a police museum in Springfield, Missouri, from 1973 until late last year.

Several people bid in person on the guns on Saturday, including Michael Brown, who said he was representing a group that wanted the guns for a gangster museum planned in Las Vegas. He bid nearly as much as the winning bidder on each gun and said he especially wanted the Tommy gun.

"There are very few guns with the historic value of that one," Brown said as he left to catch a plane back to Las Vegas. Brown said he hadn't planned to bid on the second gun but did so after losing out on the Tommy gun. He said he was surprised the second gun went so high.

Mayo talked up the Tommy gun during the bidding as a "unique opportunity to own a piece of history" and he predicted the weapons would sell for much more in the years ahead.

The 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters and directed by Arthur Penn is considered a landmark work for its modern treatment of sex and violence.

It won Academy Awards for best supporting actress and best cinematography, and was notable at the time for the bloodiness of its final death scene.

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