Bloodstained Bonnie & Clyde shirt
From Correspondent Don Knapp, CNN, April 15, 1997
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Bidding for outlaw Clyde Barrow's "death shirt"
Monday stirred up memories of one of the Depression era's most notorious
the bidding started in a San Francisco auction house for the bloody, bullet-ridden
shirt worn by outlaw Clyde Barrow on the day the law ambushed him and his
girlfriend, Bonnie Parker, the numbers flew fast and furious.
In the end, a Nevada casino paid $85,000 for the light blue, bloodstained
shirt. The rest of Clyde Barrow's belongings netted $187,809, half of which
will go to Marie Barrow, Clyde's sister and only surviving relative.
Marie Barrow said her mother kept the shirt in a cedar chest for years
before passing it on to her.
"It was the shirt he wore when he died, so I guess it was important
to my mother," she said.
In 1934, Clyde Barrow was 24 and Bonnie Parker was 23 when a police ambush
in Louisiana violently ended their two-year spree of bank robberies and
They may have been dangerous outlaws, but to Marie Barrow, they were
"He knew I wanted a bicycle, and he got me my bicycle. My first bicycle
I ever had in my life," Barrow recalls. "And ... he bought me my first
bedroom suite when I was 15 years old."
Barrow says she never asked where Clyde got the money to buy the bedroom
furniture. She also says she has an explanation for what went wrong in
her brother's life.
Her brother, she says, started doing petty crimes in an attempt to take
care of the family during the Depression. As his legend grew, so did the
number of crimes the authorities blamed on Clyde. Together with Bonnie,
Clyde reportedly killed 15 people and robbed more than a dozen banks in
"He said he was never going back to that hell hole ... and that they
would kill him before he ever went back there," Barrow says. "He knew he
was going to get killed. He knew it. She did, too. He tried to get (Bonnie)
to come home and stay, but she wouldn't leave him. She loved him too much."
In the end, it was Whisky Pete's Nevada Casino that won the honor of
owning Clyde's bloody shirt. For $85,000, the shirt will hang alongside
Bonnie and Clyde's bullet-ridden car.
The bid for the shirt was more than double the original estimate by
San Francisco auctioneer Butterfield & Butterfield. The total sale
price for the shirt included a $10,000 buyer's fee paid to the auction
"I'm glad he got it," Marie Barrow said. "He's already got the car,
and I just think it would be nice for him to have it."
Used with permission