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USA: Meyer Lansky’s Medal of Freedom sold at auction

A Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian decorations in the United States, awarded to an American underworld godfather for services rendered during World War II, will be auctioned in California this summer.

The decoration was presented in 1945 by President Harry Truman to Meyer Lansky in a secret ceremony. Because Meyer Lansky was at the time at the head of the “National Crime Syndicate”, nickname given to a confederation bringing together different mafia groups responsible for hundreds of murders in the 1930s and 1940s.

It was for his role in “Operation Husky” during World War II that Lansky and his associate Lucky Luciano received this medal.

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The two godfathers had given numerous information to the allied forces during the invasion of Sicily in 1943, in particular putting the soldiers in contact with local mafia officials.

American gambling king Meyer Lansky pauses in Israel’s High Court where he was seeking permission to remain in the Jewish state as an immigrant, March 1972. (AP)

Among these Sicilian godfathers was Calogero “Don Calo” Vizzini, a prominent member of the Cosa Nostra, who helped Allied troops advance through hard-to-reach areas and provided crucial maps in the victory against Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

The Medal of Freedom awarded to Meyer Lansky for his participation and assistance during World War II in “Operation Husky”, in a secret ceremony in 1945 by President Harry S. Truman, estimated at between 40,000 and $60,000. (Credit: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

The medal, which could reach 60,000 dollars, is part of a lot of objects and curiosities related to the Mafia auctioned on August 27 and 28 by Julien’s Auctions.

Objects that belonged to Bugsy Siegel, who contributed a lot to making Las Vegas what the city is today with its hotel-casinos like the Flamingo, are notably on offer.

Suspected of having hit the cash register by other mobsters, Bugsy Siegel was shot dead in 1947 in the luxurious Beverly Hills villa officially belonging to his girlfriend, Virginia Hill.

Among the highlights of the auction are Bugsy Siegel’s Smith & Wesson revolver and a letter written by Al Capone while he was imprisoned in Alcatraz.

Artifacts on display June 13, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California at the preview for Julien’s ‘The Mob: A History of Organized Crime’s Most Notorious Artifacts’ auction include Meyer Lansky’s collection of bow ties, estimated between $3,000 and $5,000. (Credit: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

The curious will also be able to discover 8 mm cameras and films – including one never before developed – that belonged to Anthony Spilotro, a mafia specialist in burglaries who inspired the character played by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s film “Casino” in 1995.

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