In This Rogues’ Gallery, Photographs Are Just the Start

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Fifteen years ago, Arthur Nash made one of his first purchases of gangland memorabilia when a dealer in rare photographs showed him what he said was the first published picture of the gangster Arnold Rothstein. Before long, Mr. Nash, who was 19 at the time, was searching for photographs of other notorious figures, like Al Capone, Machine Gun Jack McGurn and Abe Reles.

Mr. Nash’s interest in gangland lore broadened, and he eventually assembled a collection of 1,500 items documenting the lives and often brutal times of people involved in organized crime.

Some of the items are linked to murders: for example, a barber chair from the old Park Sheraton Hotel in which the mob boss Albert Anastasia was sitting when he was killed in 1957.

Mr. Nash also owns a fedora that belonged to the man thought by many to have shot Anastasia: Joey Gallo. He was wearing the hat on the night in 1972 that he was fatally shot inside Umberto’s Clam Bar on Mulberry Street.

The oldest items date to Prohibition and the most recent to the early 1970s....

For two months starting in August, Mr. Nash used a storefront next to Umberto’s to display part of the collection in an exhibit called “Made in America.” He said that he was considering similar exhibits in other cities, like Baltimore and Las Vegas.

When the collection is not on display it is stored in the Chelsea Hotel, where Mr. Nash lives in an apartment once occupied by Bob Dylan. Every so often, he invites guests over to see part of the collection, which he estimates is worth $1.5 million.

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