Crime & Punishment

Jared Gendron

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Something that will always invite simultaneous fascination and horror is the workings of the criminal mind. For centuries, authorities have worked tirelessly to piece together the most harrowing crimes by expanding their methods, processes of documentation and ways of approaching what most would consider unapproachable. Modern day films like The French Connection, The Untouchables, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en are driven by the detective’s relentless and often infuriating pursuit of criminal masterminds, depicting grueling investigations in which the authorities are forced to apply different approaches to solve the crime.

This kind of work requires exhausting efforts and constant change, especially in the face of trying times. The 1920s and 1930s birthed some of the most challenging circumstances our economy has endured: Prohibition and the Great Depression. These times erupted with rebellion, opposition and extreme survival tactics, giving way to some of the most fearless criminals plotting the most outrageous heists – train hijackings, bank robberies, burglaries, larceny, forgery – forcing authorities to delve deeper into the psychology behind these violations.

Our Crime and Punishment live online auction traces the earliest days of law enforcement, documenting its evolution from the 1700s through the 20th century. Included is an original Andrew Hamilton legal document; vintage mug shots of legendary bank robber, John Dillinger; letters from within the walls of Alcatraz by way of its infamous “Birdman”; a handwritten letter from Lee Harvey Oswald which was held as evidence in the Warren Commission Hearings, and a lengthy piece of correspondence from notorious mob boss, John Gotti.

Also within the offering is a letter directly from the desk of one of history’s most formidable authority figures, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, J. Edgar Hoover, a man whose dedication to growing the field of law enforcement is as impressive as the length of his career. As the first Director of the FBI from 1935 – 1972, Hoover expounded on the groundwork laid by his predecessors, the foundation of which is intricately laid throughout this collection.

Hailing largely from the collection of Police Chief Michael Webb, who served with the Vinita Park, Missouri, police force from 1974 through 2009, this gathering forms a cumulative map comprised of the raw materials law officials collected, applied and reapplied. The significance of these items lies within the glimpse they provide into the workings of both the criminal and authoritative mind, bridging an important historical and psychological gap between those who are determined to break the law and those who strive to preserve it.

Browse our Live Online Auction Here (Auction Closes Saturday March 7, 2015)

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