Mafia boss (1897-1962). By the early 1930s he was the undisputed king of the NYC mafia. Convicted on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution in 1936, his sentence was commuted in 1946 and he was deported to Italy. (It has been alleged that while in prison, he assisted the US military in its plans to invade Sicily in 1943). He died in Naples in 1962 and was buried in New York City. Rare ALS, as a deportee in Italy, signed “Charlie,” two pages, 6 x 8.25, October 21, 1959. Letter to his friend Barney. In full: “I received your last letter. I was glad to hear you both had a nice trip home. Barney I don’t know who this Mike Sands is. I wish you would stop having doubts to our agreement. When you come across another Mike Sands or anybody like that, there is only one word you should say. If you have a contract why don’t you go to him meaning me. Comon [sic] sense would tell you, that if this fellow was on the up and up, he would never come to you. My best regards to Gilda.”
Cloth matted and framed (with the letter permanently affixed to the mat) with the original mailing envelope, addressed in Luciano’s hand, as well as a small portrait, to an overall size of 25 x 13.5. Several small blocks of staining from old tape or adhesive (not at all affecting the overall legibility of the letter), both pages having rough left edges, with paper loss to top left corner of second page, otherwise fine condition.
“Barney” was Hollywood producer Barnett Glassman, with whom Luciano’s had a contractual “agreement”—a 1959 deal to put together a film based on the Mafia boss’s life. The contract stemmed from a serious cash flow problem that hampered many of his New York business interests. That, coupled with a series of heart attacks, forced him to look for different money-making avenues. Anyone interested in muzzling in on the deal, or claiming to have a contradictory arrangement, could see Luciano. “If you have a contract why don’t you go to him meaning me,” he tells his associate. Despite the light, generic tone of the letter’s content, this is more than likely a coded and cryptic message delivered by a crime boss still very much in control, and the mentioned “contract” is no doubt more serious than it appears.