The Auction at Graceland•Elvis Week•August 12, 2018
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/12/2018

Beretta has a history of firearms manufacture dating back to 1526, however it was 1915 when Beretta supplied the military needs of World War I that the company made its first pistol. The model M1934 was its most popular pistol in the World War II era and became the standard issue to the Italian armed forces. The model 1934 is a semi-automatic pistol with relatively few parts and a simple slot at the top for ejection, making it easy to maintain. The pistols made during the Fascist era are marked with date of manufacture with the conventional Julian calendar date in Arabic numerals followed by the Fascist era date in Roman numerals. In addition, armed forces pistols further exhibit marks stamped into the frame on the left just above the grip, with RE (Regio Esercito) for the Army. 

The offered gun contains several engravings and embellishments. The ornate “PB” Beretta logo is on both grips, and the serial number “935204” is on both the frame and the action of the weapon. On the other side of the action is engraved “P. BERETTA-CAL. 9 CORTO-Mo 1934-BREVET. / GARDONE V.T. 1942 XX” and above the grip “RE.” This prime example was a gift to Elvis from General Omar Bradley, a friend and neighbor in Beverly Hills, likely on December 9, 1970. Elvis had the utmost respect and admiration for the general and had just days earlier on December 4 presented the general with a Christmas gift of a 24-karat gold engraved Colt M1911 pistol, which he likely purchased the day before during a gun-buying binge at Kerr’s Sporting Goods.

General Omar Nelson Bradley was our nation's final Five-Star General. The list of other Five-Star Generals includes Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and no less than George Washington himself. General Bradley was also the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During World War II, Genreral Bradley was a leading commander for the U.S. forces. He oversaw the first American airborne division followed by his first front-line command in Operation Torch serving under General Patton in North Africa. Bradley then commanded corps in the Allied invasion of Sicily, known as Operation Husky, which was designed to take control of the island from the Axis powers of Germany and Italy. The operation began on July 10, 1943 and continued until August 17, during which time the Allied forces were able to secure the island for safe passage of merchant ships. This—combined with Benito Mussolini’s fall from power—created an opening for the invasion of Italy, which would result in Germany being compelled to divert forces from the Eastern front to Italy. Based on the markings on this pistol, this gun was produced in 1942 and the “XX” refers to the twentieth year of the reign of Benito Mussolini. While we cannot say with absolute certainty, the pistol's date of manufacture very well could indicate that the gun was acquired by General Bradley during the Operation Husky maneuver, when Sicily was secured by WWII Allied forces in 1943, an operation in which he was intimately involved. Further supporting this theory is that it makes a certain amount of sense that the General would have wanted to return Elvis' gesture of gifting him such a significant presentation weapon by gifting Elvis a pistol with its own degree of significance. A pistol he acquired during one of the most important operations in WWII would qualify.

The esteem between Elvis and General Bradley is evident by the gifting to Elvis of this significant relic. This historic pistol comes with a letter, dated October 23, 1995, from Barbara Leigh that reads in part, “Thank you for wanting Elvis’ gun. This Beretta gun is special. It belonged to Omar Bradley. Elvis and Omar were friends. They both lived in ... Beverly Hills. One day Omar called and we all went over to his home. He knew Elvis loved guns and especially Beretta’s. Omar gave this Beretta to Elvis and it surprised him. Elvis was always the one to give gifts. Omar’s house was fantastic with all the history of Presidents on his wall. It was a great day, one I’ll never forget. Elvis was proud of the gun and later gave it to me because I was there when it was given to him.” Also included is a signed and inscribed promotional photo from Barbara to our consignor which reads “Tom, Enjoy the gun Omar Bradley gave to Elvis. It was a great day. Love Barbara Leigh 10-23-95.” Additionally, a letter from Joe Esposito is included which reads, in part, “The P. BERRETA gun, serial #935204 was a gift to ELVIS PRESLEY by his friend, GENERAL OMAR BRADLEY in 1971.”  

In December of 1970, Elvis was in Los Angeles and purchased a Mercedes for himself, Jerry Schilling and Barbara Leigh, so the timing of the visit to Omar Bradley’s home with Barbara, likely on December 9, was fitting. This pistol represents not only a moment in history that changed the fate of the world, but it also embodies the affection of two famous men in very different fields who maintained a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration. The gun measures 5 3/4 by 4 3/4 inches (14.60 x 12.06 cm) and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.



The pistol presents with minor wear and appears to be in working condition, but it has not been test fired. Excellent to Mint condition.
 General Omar Bradley Owned 1942 Beretta Model M1934 9mm Corto Caliber Pistol (Known as .380 ACP in Modern Day) Gifted to Elvis Presley on December 9, 1970, Later Gifted to Girlfriend Barbara Leigh
Bidding
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $25,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $51,250.00
Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000
Number Bids: 10
Auction closed on Sunday, August 12, 2018.
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