WAUSAU, Wisconsin – Chicago mobster Al Capone's old rural hideout, complete with guard towers and a stone house with 18-inch-thick walls, was sold for $2.6 million Thursday to the bank that foreclosed on it.
Capone — nicknamed "Scarface" — headed a massive bootlegging, gambling and prostitution operation during Prohibition and raked in tens of millions of dollars. He was widely suspected in several murders but never charged.
The bank foreclosed on the 400-acre wooded site not far from the Canadian border in April 2008 and said the minimum bid would be $2.6 million. The bank had advertised the site as "very private and pristine."
Capone owned the land in the late 1920s and early 1930s during Prohibition, the bank said. Local legend claims that shipments of bootleg alcohol were flown in on planes that landed on the property's 37-acre lake, and were then loaded onto trucks bound for Chicago.
Chippewa Valley Bank was the only bidder during a five-minute sheriff's sale on the steps of the county courthouse in the northern Wisconsin town of Hayward, Margie Schull of the Sawyer County Sheriff's Department said.
Other parties are certainly interested, the bank's Vice President Joe Kinnear said — but for something less than $2.6 million.
He said at least four people want to buy the property, perhaps to restore it to what it once was — a restaurant, museum and tourist area.
"It looks like we are going to have our hands full trying to get rid of it to these other individuals," Kinnear said. "We will market it and sell it. Somebody will buy it."
He hopes that happens within 90 days.
The bank acquired the property after foreclosing on owner Guy Houston and his company The Hideout Inc., according to court records. The Houston family bought the property in the 1950s from Capone's estate and had operated it as a seasonal bar and restaurant, known for its prime rib, and offered guided tours focusing on the Capone lore.
He was considered the mastermind of the gangland killing on Chicago's North Side in 1929, known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Seven rivals of Capone's gang were gunned down in a garage, but investigators never could collect enough evidence to put anyone on trial for the deaths.
Capone was eventually convicted of income tax evasion and spent part of an 11-year sentence at the infamous Alcatraz prison. He died in 1947.
Kinnear had said last month that there was interest in Capone's one-time hideout as a retreat or as possible land for development. It was once appraised at $3.7 million, he said.