On the morning of May 23, 1934, Clyde Barrow — a small-time criminal who had worked his way up to celebrity bank robber and spree killer — stopped his stolen Ford V-8 on a rural road near Gibsland, La.
Inside were an arsenal of stolen automatic rifles, sawed-off semiautomatic shotguns, assorted handguns and several thousand rounds of ammunition and, of course, the love of his life, Bonnie Parker.
It was 9:15 a.m., and Barrow was carrying his Elgin pocket watch with a Wadsworth 10-karat gold-filled screw-back case. That was when his time finally ran out. A posse of six fired off 130 rounds, led by Frank Hamer, who had more than 50 kills notched on his belt and was seen as the personification of the macho Texas law enforcement code: "One riot, one ranger."
When the smoke cleared, Barrow was dead — with 17 holes in his body. Reports say that Parker had time to scream before she too died, perforated with 26 holes.
The watch, however, survived (in a manner of speaking) — and can be yours: It's being auctioned Sept. 30 in New Hampshire. Officials hope to get $50,000 to $100,000 for the watch, though the "sky's the limit," Bobby Livingston, vice president of RR Auction in Amherst, N.H., said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Also up for bid is the Colt .38-caliber revolver that Parker had pasted to her inner thigh with medical tape, as well as the .45-caliber pistol that Barrow kept in his waistband. Each weapon could bring between $100,000 and $200,000, said Livingston. Barrow's cosmetics case is also on the block.
In the '30s, some gangsters were the rock stars of their day. John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd were dashing, Robin Hood-like figures, celebrated in word and song and much later in lush Hollywood movies. Bonnie and Clyde were part of that tradition, too. They similarly received the Hollywood treatment, glorified in the 1967 film starring Warren Beattie and Faye Dunaway.
After the deaths of the two gangsters, the artifacts were fought over. The current lot comes mainly from the estate of a Texas collector, and some items are from the estate of Barrow's sister, Marie.