Auction House to Sell Angry Bonnie & Clyde Letter

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

More than 80 years after they were apprehended and killed by police, infamous crime duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow continue to capture the public imagination. Now, the AP reports, true crime buffs can purchase an angry letter the two wrote to Raymond Hamilton, a former member of their gang, shortly before their deaths in 1934.

Boston auction house RR Auction is selling the letter on Monday, September 25, at 1 p.m. ET. The four-page, handwritten letter is expected to fetch as much as $40,000. It was likely dictated by Barrow, who couldn’t write well, and penned in cursive by Parker. It contains Barrow’s signature—and lots of colorful 1920s gangster slang.

At the time of the letter’s writing, Hamilton was imprisoned in Dallas County Jail. “I’m very sorry to hear of your getting captured, but due to the fact that you offered no resistance sympathy is lacking,” Barrow's note began. “The most I can do is hope you miss the ‘chair.’ The purpose of this letter is to remind you of all the ‘dirty deals’ you have pulled."

It’s unclear why Barrow is so angry with Hamilton, a childhood friend of his who joined the gang in the early 1930s. In 1934, Barrow orchestrated a raid to free Hamilton from a Texas prison farm, where he was incarcerated for a jewelry store heist. But soon after that, the two’s relationship soured.

In the letter, Barrow expresses disgust at the supposed cowardice Hamilton displayed while escaping a police road block in Missouri. He mentions a disagreement the two had over money—how to divide up $4000 they had stolen in a Texas bank robbery. He also calls his girlfriend, Mary O’Dare, a “Prostitute Sweetheart” who “hails from a ‘rat’ family.”

"I should have killed you then I would have saved myself much bother and money looking for you," Barrow concludes.

In 1934, Hamilton left Barrow’s gang—presumably over O’Dare—and denied his involvement with the group in a letter to lawyers. Shortly after, he was arrested for robbing a bank. However, Hamilton didn't “miss the chair,” as Barrow referred to his potential execution; he died in the electric chair on May 10, 1935. As for Barrow and Parker, they died on May 23, 1934, a month or so after their letter was sent.

You can read the entire letter on RR Auction's website.

[h/t Associated Press]

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