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Bloodstained Bonnie & Clyde shirt nets $85,000

shirt April 15, 1997
Web posted at: 4:15 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Don Knapp

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Bidding for outlaw Clyde Barrow's "death shirt" Monday stirred up memories of one of the Depression era's most notorious couples.

As 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.

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Young legends

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 murders.

They may have been dangerous outlaws, but to Marie Barrow, they were family.

"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.

Clyde's sister

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 eight states.

"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 house.

"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."

Bonnie & Clyde

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