ART SHAY

MAFIA BOSS TONY ACCARDO IN A CHICAGO COURTHOUSE, 1959

YEAR: 1959

MEDIUM: Photography

MATERIAL: Vintage Silver Print

DIMENSIONS: 10.5 x 13.5 in // 26.7 x 34.3 cm

ABOUT TONY ACCARDO: 

Anthony Accardo, also known as Tony Accardo, “Joe Batters” and “Big Tuna“, was a famous Italo-American Chicago based mobster. He belonged to the Chicago Outfit, where we rose from a ground soldier during Al Capone’s days to ipso facto boss and consiglieri, by becoming the Outfit’s Enforcement Authority and later the underboss under Paul “The Waiter” Ricca.

Due to his criminal activity, Tony Accardo was usually featured in the press and was the centre of attention of many journalists, reporters, photographers and law enforcement officers. However, Accardo managed to avoid being sent to prison like his predecessors by changing the business model of the Outfit. He was the mastermind behind the almost complete legitimacy of all the Outfit’s activities: he prohibited racketeering and extortion, dismantled the brothel services and transformed them into call-girl services… In conclusion he made the Outfit be a profitable business that seemed quite legible.

In this photograph Art Shay captures the essence of the crime boss, his calmness despite being in the Courthouse, his presence… The photograph must have been taken during the time Tony Accardo was under a stronger IFS surveillance and he had to name Sam Giancanna as the ipso facto boss, despite his eccentric lifestyle which only increased the law enforcement pressure on the Outfit.