Did you know that a Medal of Freedom (equivalent to the Legion of Honor) was awarded to one of the most senior figures in the American underworld of the 1930s-40s? This is the case of Meyer Lansky, to whom the decoration was presented in 1945 by President Harry Truman for having assisted the Allied forces during “Operation Husky”, and imparted valuable information during the Second World War. The ceremony is kept secret, and for good reason: at the time of his decoration, Meyer Lansky was the head of the “National Crime Syndicate”, a confederation of several criminal organizations in the United States.
This medal will be put on sale on August 28, 2022 by Julien’s Auction, in California: estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 dollars, it is accompanied by other goods having belonged to famous American gangsters. Examples include a handwritten letter from Al Capone, written to his son while he was incarcerated at Alcatraz; films and cameras from Anthony Spilotro, who inspired the character of Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s film Casino; or even American gangster Mickey Cohen’s boxing gloves. Items that belonged to Lucky Luciano, creator of the “National Crime Syndicate”, and Bugsy Siegel, founder of the assassination branch (the “Murder Inc.”) are also up for sale, including a pair of flamingo statuettes pottery and a cane offered to Meyer Lansky.
This unusual auction is not the first: other objects that belonged to famous gangsters have already gone under the hammer. In October 2021, a sale of Al Capone’s belongings by Witherell’s brought in more than $3.1 million. It included in particular his favorite pistol, sold for 360,000 dollars.