Mob hit man’s $500,000-plus stash of diamonds, gold to go on auction block
BY STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org June 25, 2012 6:49PM
The back of a man's 18k gold Baume & Mercier pocket watch, with Frank Calabrese Sr. initial on the outside. Opening bid, $510. | Photo Courtesy, Gaston & Sheehan
Updated: July 27, 2012 6:14AM
For sale: two vintage folding pocket knives, once belonging to a prolific mob killer, with one engraved with the hitman’s initials, FJC.
Opening bid: $235.
Got more to spend?
How about a loose, 8.64 carat diamond the hitman had stashed away?
Opening bid: $133,700.
Those are just two of more than 250 loose diamonds, gold necklaces, gold coins, earrings, pendants, engagement rings, luxury watches and other items that made up the hidden stash of Chicago Outfit hit man Frank Calabrese Sr.
Two years ago, the feds raided Calabrese’s home in Oak Brook.
Agents found heaps of cash, jewelry and guns in a secret compartment, hidden by a family photo in a basement wall.
Now, for the first time, the public will get its first good look at Calabrese’s hidden treasures, gathered from a life of brutality and murder.
Next month, a Texas auction house will sell the items, valued at more than $500,000.
The proceeds, minus the auction house’s commission, will go toward paying the $4.4 million that Calabrese still owes the government in fines and restitution after he was convicted in the historic Family Secrets mob trial.
Calabrese, 75, doesn’t have much use for the stuff these days.
He’s behind bars for life, held under the strictest security possible, at a medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Mo. At the trial, Calabrese was tied to 13 mob murders and even mouthed a threat to kill a federal prosecutor.
Calabrese bragged at trial he made millions on the street and was known among his family for stashing valuables. Despite being behind bars, Calabrese even allegedly persuaded a prison chaplain to help him search for a valuable violin that Calabrese had once hidden at his Wisconsin vacation home. The priest is facing a criminal trial; the violin was never recovered.
It’s not clear where Calabrese got all the jewelry. His former defense attorney, Joseph “The Shark” Lopez, dubbed Calabrese “a collector.”
But it’s known that Calabrese, a brutal loan shark, would accept payment on late juice loans in something other than cash from nervous borrowers.
“They should have paid their debts,” Lopez said.
On sale are items with luxury brand names such as Patek Philippe, Piaget and Baume & Mercier.
And dozens of diamonds, both loose and set in men’s and women’s rings.
“He’s got lots of diamonds,” said Bob Sheehan, owner of the auction firm Gaston & Sheehan, which will hold an online public auction of the items at www.txauction.com, from July 10-24.
This is the second sale of items seized from Calabrese’s home.
Last August, the same auction house, which does many sales for the U.S. Marshals Service, sold more than 100 rare $1,000 and $500 bills that Calabrese had.
Before that sale, Sheehan predicted the auction of old currency could bring in $125,000 to $150,000.
In the end, the auction raked in $245,860, court records show.