KNOXVILLE (MCT) – The gun that fell from the folds of outlaw Bonnie Parker's skirt in a funeral home after lawmen gunned her down along with Clyde Barrow was sold for $85,000 during an auction Saturday at Case Auctions and Antiques.
With the buyer's premium, a charge all customers pay for the privilege of bidding, the price climbed to $99,450, said Sarah Drury, vice president fine arts and decorative arts, Case Antiques, Auctions and Appraisals.
This was less than the estimated $125,000 to $175,000 the nickel-plated Colt .38 semi-automatic pistol was expected to sell for at auction. The new owners, a man and woman who asked not to be identified, didn't wish to comment.
More than 300 folks were on hand at Cherokee Mills off Sutherland Avenue. Up for auction were the handgun, six bullets found in pistol's clip, an album of 14 original photos from the scene where a posse of lawmen shot the couple and an affidavit of authenticity from the coroner who signed the couple's death certificates.
Drury said that on Friday and Saturday, a lot of people came through the doors who normally might not pay much attention to an art and antique auction.
"It was such a historical object, it really captured the public's imagination," she said. "We did have a lot of history buffs who came and wanted to see this firearm sell."
Dustin Hofstetter, a furniture restorer with Case Antiques, Auctions and Appraisals, said 131 rounds were fired by the lawmen who ambushed Bonnie and Clyde the afternoon of May 23, 1934, in Arcadia, La.
Hofstetter said because so many people wanted to see the bodies, the coroner hurriedly took their clothes off, put white sheets over them and rolled them out to appease the crowd, who wanted proof they were dead.
"In the process of taking clothes off, they found the gun," he said.
A woman working at the funeral parlor tucked the gun away and later gave it to her grandson, Bob Hightower.
"Case Antiques has been doing a lot of really neat historical items and to have this in the mix of things is huge for Knoxville," Hofstetter said. "It puts us on the map. There's a lot of history here and there are a lot of people willing to share that history."