Treasures to be had at Chicago Estate Sale

March 23, 2011

Last week we told you about the Chicago real estate-sale-of-the-century. Believe it or not, I think we may have found a bigger one this week.

Anna May "Babe" Ahern

Anna May "Babe" Ahern

The estate sale of Anna May “Babe” Ahern is set to begin Thursday in Chicago.

Babe Ahern is the long-time owner of Evergreen Golf Club in Evergreen Park and was known as the First Lady of Golf. She lived her entire life at the club, which she inherited from her parents who had turned a farm into a golf course back in the 1920s.

During the Prohibition era, a 14-year-old Babe witnessed the course’s Beverly Gardens restaurant being raided and 20 people being arrested for gambling, including her mother.

Babe was 26 when John Dillinger and his gang robbed that same restaurant on New Year’s Eve. Four men were shot in the incident, including two county patrolmen, but no one died and everyone got away.

That same year, Babe’s parents hired Vincent Gebhardi as Evergreen’s head pro. Gebhardi was better known as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, Al Capone’s No. 1 hit man and an integral player in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. He was arrested that year and spent six months in jail.

In 1999, the Village of Evergreen Park tried to take Ahern’s 95-acre property under eminent domain laws to build a Home Depot store and housing.

Babe battled and won, walking away with $1.2 million for her troubles.

In December, Ahern sold the property to a Chicago developer for $7.5 million. She died shortly after.

stuff at the saleBabe never married and had no children, but apparently liked to buy, sometimes in quantity, and now all the eclectic remains of her 103 years of life are going on sale. And what amazing remains there will be.

Here is a partial list of some of the thousands of items for sale set up in a 15,000-square-foot space:

*A “Gone With the Wind” jack-in-the-box that has Scarlett O’Hara popping out

*19th-century ceramic Chinese food dog figures priced at $500 a pair

*A huge collection of Irish porcelain dinnerware

*A baseball bat, ball and cards signed by Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, a good friend of Babe’s

*Endless golf equipment

*Multiple Italian alabaster busts and marble figures

*Louis XVI Style Gilt Bronze Mounted Bureau Plat

jukebox and popcorn machine*Pair of Bronze and Iron Andirons, circa 1900

*Two jukeboxes

*A vintage popcorn machine

*A department store’s worth of couture clothing and mink coats

*Hummel figurines

*Vintage jewelry

*Art pieces dating back to the 1800s

*A nude portrait of a young Babe

“Machine Gun” McGurn’s 1932 revolver was among Ahern’s possessions. That will be for sale at a later date since guns can’t be sold in Chicago.

Chicago Luxury Sales has been organizing and pricing all the items for the event, and unlike last week’s estate sale at Scottie Pippen’s old Highland Park house, you can spend more than 15 minutes browsing Ahern’s collection.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Anna May “Babe” Ahern Foundation.

By the way, that local developer who bought the south suburban property is Sterling Bay Cos., who made the purchase with backing from the Chicago billionaire Pritzker family. Their goal is to create a shopping center with a grocery store as the anchor tenant.

What: Anna May “Babe” Ahern estate sale

Where: 111 W. Kinzie St., Chicago

When: Thursday through Sunday, March 24-27; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Visit: for more information

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Tracey, a correction: Evergreen Park did try to take the golf course by eminent domain, but not for a Home Depot. She had had a contract for $25 million in the late 90s (contingent on zoning approval) with Home Depot a few years earlier; Evergreen Park denied their zoning application; then, in 2002, Evergreen Park filed the eminent domain action, reportedly to keep the site as open space and prevent development. When it finally went to trial, it took the jury about 15 minutes to find in her favor, awarding her $25 million. Evergreen Park abandoned their action, not being able to pay the amount awarded, and as a result had to pay her lawyer’s fees.

Home Depot wound up in Oak Lawn, which is enjoying the property tax and sales tax revenues.

Your description of the sale was good. I wound up buying some nice things at very favorable prices.


Excellent, Kevin. Thanks for the information!

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