Jun 20, 2019 - Sale 2514

Sale 2514 - Lot 137

Price Realized: $ 3,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
JOHN WOJTOWICZ (1945-2006)

File of correspondence by the "Gay Bank Robber" of Dog Day Afternoon fame.

50 items in one box; generally minor wear. Vp, 1973-78.

Additional Details

John Wojtowicz was the leader of an ill-fated New York bank robbery in 1972. The bank was surrounded by police, and after holding hostages for 14 hours, Wojtowicz was arrested and one of his accomplices was killed. Wojtowicz stated that his motive was to pay for the gender confirmation surgery of his partner, a trans woman named Elizabeth Eden. The story was immortalized in the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino.
Offered here is the correspondence file between Wojtowicz and journalist Jeanne Barney of California (see lot 138) during the period of his imprisonment. It includes 8 signed letters and notes from Wojtowicz, 3 of Barney's typed carbon retained responses, and 40 copies sent by Wojtowicz of clippings, correspondence and legal documents relating to his case.
Wojtowicz introduced himself with a 3 March 1973 Autograph Letter Signed as "Little John": "I recently read your column listing names of prisoners to write to. I would like my name & address placed in your column & hopefully to receive some mail from people who care enough about a gay prisoner to write to him. . . . I have been referred to in the press as the Gay Bank Robber." He next wrote a handmade Christmas card in 1974, explaining that his address book had been taken from him while "in the hole." A signed 1975 form letter asks for assistance because he had been denied the privilege of seeing Dog Day Afternoon in prison. His 3 November 1975 letter then reviews the film: "I thought the movie was a piece of garbage & didn't like their handling of the gay parts in it at all, but Al Pacino & Chris Sarandon both deserve Oscars. . . . The straights really dig it, but I doubt the gays will." On 3 January [1976], he complained that his editorial for the New York Times had been rejected (a typescript copy of the editorial and related papers are also included). The last is a colorful handmade 1977 Valentine including a poem, "What is Love?"
Among the related photocopies are a 1974 agreement for the novelization of Dog Day Afternoon, a March 1976 letter regarding a lawsuit over royalties, a five-page 1977 physician's letter tracking signs of Wojtowicz's mental illness during his incarceration, a letter from Wojtowicz's ex-wife Carmen hoping that he could be transferred to the East Coast to be nearer to their children, and numerous court documents relating to his case. The latest is dated 1978, the year he was released from prison.