A defunct Mafia museum claims an auction house sold dozens of articles once owned by Sam Giancana, though the museum owns them - having bought them from the late Chicago boss's daughter.
The Mafia Collection LLC sued Munari Auctions and William Woolery on Monday, in Clark County Court. The Mafia Collection claims that it warned Munari that it owned the Giancana collection, but Munari auctioned them off on Nov. 22 anyway. It's a rather tangled tale.
The Mafia Collection claims in the lawsuit that it paid $23,300 to buy the artifacts from Giancana's daughter, Antoinette McDonnell, in 2009, and that has the bill of sale. It bought the articles for the now-closed Las Vegas Mob Experience, which featured artifacts from many prominent gangsters. The artifacts include photographs, court documents, furnishings and personal effects once owned by Giancana and passed on to his daughter.
McDonnell initially was a paid consultant for the Las Vegas Mob Experience, which was owned and operated by Murder Inc., according to a Las Vegas Review article on a previous lawsuit 2011.
The Las Vegas Mob Experience was an interactive exhibit housed in the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino from 2011 to 2013. It featured artifacts from Giancana, Bugsy Siegel, Anthony Spilotro and others.
Before that exhibit opened, McDonnell sued Murder Inc. and the Mafia Collection in Clark County Court. McDonnell claimed the Mafia Collection never paid her for Giancana's items and that the selling price was too low.
In the present lawsuit, the Mafia Collection calls that lawsuit "frivolous," and says that a judge ruled against McDonnell in July this year and ordered her not to get rid of the artifacts in question. But McDonnell turned over the stuff to Munari Auctions, according to the lawsuit, and Munari sold some or all of them in November.
The Sam Giancana Estate Auction featured 152 "lots," including photos, documents, furniture and police and coroner reports about the mobster's 1975 murder in his Chicago home, according to the auction catalog.
The Mafia Collection claims that Munari's auction was "reckless and done in circumvention of the law, court order and the directive of the artifacts' owner" and done "for the gain and profit of both McDonnell and itself."
Some or all of the artifacts are housed and controlled by McDonnell's "appointed agent in fact," William R. Woolery, according to the lawsuit.
Mafia Collection seeks declaratory judgment that it owns the articles, possession of it, and damages for conversion.
Giancana was boss of the Chicago mob from 1957 to 1966. His alleged ties to President John F. Kennedy and the CIA are the stuff of legend. The CIA allegedly sought his help to assassinate Fidel Castro. Giancana was shot in the head in his Chicago home in 1975. He was 67.
Thanks to Mike Heuer.
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