How Lucky Luciano’s Ring May Have Ended Up On ‘Pawn Stars’
A gold signet ring allegedly owned by Lucky Luciano surfaced in 2012 with a price tag of $100,000 – even though the seller had no paperwork to authenticate it.
Lucky Luciano was known as the father of modern organized crime. Born in Italy at the turn of the century, he became a ruthless mob hitman in New York and the first boss of the Genovese crime family. While his crimes were revealed at trial in 1936, it would take nearly a century for a ring believed to have belonged to the mobster to surface.
Luciano was certainly an impeccable dresser with a penchant for gold watches. A Patek Philippe belonging to him would be auctioned off for $36,000 in 2009 and become a captivating piece of Mafia memorabilia for collectors. No one knew the ring would appear in a pawn shop in 2012 – and be valued at $100,000.
“I have an old piece of jewelry that my mother passed down to me,” claims the unidentified owner. “It was Mafia boss Lucky Luciano’s signet ring. I hid it for 40 years… If someone had taken possession of this piece, until now there would have been bloodshed and war within families.
Lucky Luciano and the Italian Mafia
Not Salvatore Lucania on November 24, 1897, in Sicily, the legendary gangster will be named Charles Luciano when he arrives in the United States. He was just 10 when his immigrant family arrived in New York and just as old when he was arrested for shoplifting. He turned to robbery and extortion when he was 14.
Luciano joined the Five Points Gang and extorted Jewish youths in Manhattan to pay him 10 cents a week to protect themselves against Irish and Italian gangs. This is how he met Meyer Lansky, himself an ambitious young gangster, who refused to pay Luciano. Impressed by each other’s sass, the couple became friends.
Forming a new gang with another mobster named Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, they expanded their protection rackets. However, it was prohibition during the Roaring Twenties that really saw them come to power. Known for his loyalty and supposedly nicknamed for his luck to evade arrest, Luciano had risen through the ranks in 1925.
As chief lieutenant of mob boss Joe Masseria, Luciano was considered untouchable. That changed when rival mobsters horribly slit his throat and stabbed him with an ice pick on October 17, 1929. While Luciano survived with a daunting scar, Masseria launched a war against Salvatore Maranzano in 1930.
Determined not to die under the rule of an antiquated leader, Luciano orchestrated Masseria’s murder. He invited him to dinner on Coney Island in Brooklyn, only to apologize for going to the bathroom – and having his crew shoot Masseria in the head. He then took care of Maranzano and became the “boss of all bosses”.
Hoping to turn the Mafia into a network of regulated businesses, Luciano called a meeting and offered to restructure his criminal activities into groups, thus spawning the Five Families of New York. To keep the peace, a code of silence called omertà and a governing body called the “Commission” were set up.
Ring of Lucky Luciano
Ultimately, Lucky Luciano’s life took a drastic turn. He went from befriending Frank Sinatra and lavishing gifts on his many mistresses to being accused of organizing prostitution rackets in 1935. Prosecutor Thomas Dewey called him “the most dangerous gangster” in the world during the trial – and convicted Luciano in 1936.
He would eventually be exiled to Italy as a result of his wartime aid to the U.S. military, Luciano died of a heart attack on January 26, 1962. Then one of his most prized possessions was reportedly discovered at Las Vegas, Nevada, half a century later – as seen in the “Ring Around the Rockne” episode of Star pawns.
“I decided to come to the pawnshop today to sell my ring which belonged to Lucky Luciano, one of the most notorious mafia dons that ever existed,” the unidentified owner said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind piece that has a lot of power and a lot of authority. They’re going to want it not for its jewelry value but because of its history.
The Mafia and Las Vegas certainly have a vast and shared history together. When Nevada banned gambling in 1919, organized crime simply filled the void. It took a serious place in the industry when gambling was legalized in 1931. According to the owner of Lucky Luciano’s ring, it was a gift to his mother.
“There is an individual whose name I cannot use who gave this to my mother,” he said. “My mother was a woman who rendered special services to these people, because she had their personal confidence. These gentlemen trusted him with things they couldn’t trust anyone else.
The ring was gold with a diamond in the middle and a screaming demon above. The owner wanted $100,000 for it but had no authenticity papers. While Luciano certainly appreciated gold, the demon may have been too blasphemous for his Catholic faith – and an expert consulted hesitated to judge it genuine.
“I just don’t think we can conclude that this is Lucky Luciano’s ring,” said Jonathan Ullman, executive director of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, “[but] that’s a beautiful story.
After discovering the Lucky Luciano Ring, learn about Operation Husky and Lucky Luciano’s efforts during World War II. Then, learn about Henry Hill and the real-life “Goodfellas.”