From extraordinary violence to exorbitant wealth, these John Gotti facts reveal the true story of “The Dapper Don.”
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It’s estimated that John Gotti personally pulled in between $10 million and $12 million annually during his reign as boss.Willie Anderson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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Gotti was so interested in maintaining his “Dapper Don” image that he kept an extra suit on hand at the trial to change into after lunch.Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images
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By the time he turned 21, Gotti had already been arrested five times.NYPD/Public Domain
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Gotti committed his first murder in 1973 when he killed James McBratney outside of a bar. The killing was payback because the Irish mobster had kidnapped and murdered a member of the Gambino crime family.Dennis Caruso/NY Daily News via Getty Images
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The hit didn’t go unnoticed as Gotti was easily identified by bystanders in a photo lineup. But at his trial, he cut a deal for attempted manslaughter and only served four years.NYPD
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In 1980, John Gotti’s son was hit by a car while riding a friend’s motorbike. Despite police listing it as an accident, the driver of the car, John Favara, was kidnapped near his home and never seen again.Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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After the accident, witnesses said that Gotti’s wife attacked Favara with a metal baseball bat. He declined to press charges.NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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Rumors about Favara’s demise suggest that he may have been encased in cement or dissolved in a vat of acid.Fässer/Flickr
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Gotti once sent a henchman to threaten Frank Sinatra after the crooner lied about being ill to get out of dinner with him.Wikimedia Commons
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Gotti earned his nickname, the “Teflon Don,” after being acquitted of assault and racketeering charges in three straight trials in the mid-1980s.Bettmann Collection/Getty Images
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During his 1986 trial, John Gotti avoided prison by buying off a juror for $60,000. That juror later spent three years in jail for obstruction of justice.Library of Congress
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The boss loved to gamble, to the tune of $30,000 a night, and was considered a drain on the family’s profits. He once lost $60,000 in a dice game.Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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Gotti reportedly executed mobster Tommy DeSimone, the inspiration for the character played by Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, because DeSimone had assaulted another gangster’s wife.Warner Bros.
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In 1986, Gotti narrowly escaped death when conspirators detonated a car they thought he was riding in — only to find they had mistaken another man for him.Anthony Pescatore/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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John Gotti was once asked if he disliked being called the “Dapper Don,” to which he replied, “No. This is my public, they love me.”Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News via Getty Images
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He made the Gambino crime family very wealthy, pulling in $500 million during his time as boss through various illegal activities.Wikimedia Commons
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Gotti started his life of crime at age 12 as an errand boy for a social club run by Carmine Fatico – a captain in the Gambino crime family.NYPD
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He was left with a permanent limp after he tried to steal a cement mixer at age 14 and part of the machinery fell on his toes.Wikimedia Commons
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Growing up, John Gotti led his own street gang in his Queens, New York neighborhood called the Fulton-Rockaway Boys.Wikimedia Commons
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Gotti orchestrated the murder of then-acting Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano outside of a Manhattan steakhouse.Ruby Washington/New York Times Co./Getty Images
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Immediately after his 1990 arrest, Gotti reportedly told the officers, “3-to-1 odds I beat this case.”FBI
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At one point during Gotti’s 1992 trial, between 800 and 1,000 supporters gathered outside the courthouse to show support for him.Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
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Gotti’s hitman, “Sammy The Bull” Gravano, finally put Gotti behind bars for good when he testified against him regarding a 1985 mob murder.Wikimedia Commons
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During his final stint in prison, Gotti offered $100,000 to members of the Aryan Brotherhood to kill several former mob associates who had betrayed him. However, Gotti was ratted out to law enforcement.Wikimedia Commons
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Gotti’s son once said of his father, “There was nothing he didn’t like about it. My father lived that life 24/7. 24/7. In fact, his wife and kids were second to the streets.”CBS News
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27 John Gotti Facts That Reveal The Man Behind “The Dapper Don”
When John Gotti succumbed to throat cancer at the age of 61 in 2002, he was but a shell of the powerful mafia boss that once conquered New York. By the time of his death, he’d traded in the flashy, designer suits that saw him nicknamed the “Dapper Don” for a prison jumpsuit. He spent his final years in a cement cell in a Missouri prison — a far cry from the luxuries and excitement of his previous life.
Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, however, John Gotti possessed immeasurable wealth and power as boss of the Gambinos, one of New York City’s “five families” of organized crime. And unlike previous mafia dons, Gotti adored the spotlight and lived a public life sometimes more like that of a movie star than a mobster. Rather than play down his exorbitant wealth, Gotti embraced it, frequently hitting up hip Manhattan restaurants and rubbing shoulders with celebrities like on-screen godfather Marlon Brando.
But before reaching such heights of fame, John Gotti, like so many mobsters throughout history, came from humble beginnings and started his life of crime when he was just a boy. Before he was even 13 years old, Gotti was already running with street gangs, which soon brought him under the wing of older mobsters like Carmine Fatico, a capo in the Gambino family.
After officially joining the Gambinos, Gotti embarked upon a criminal career so infamous — assisting in the 1978 Lufthansa Heist, ordering brazen murders in public places — that it would even become the stuff of Hollywood movies.
And throughout this life of crime, Gotti dodged justice with cocky confidence again and again. His acquittal in three straight trials in the late 1980s inspired the press to dub him the “Teflon Don,” a moniker that likely only boosted Gotti’s false sense of his own invincibility.
Just as the criminal activities eventually caught up to the mafia kingpins of the past, John Gotti was no different. His 1990 murder/racketeering trial would be different than previous court appearances thanks to the testimony of his once righthand man, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano. Gotti eventually received a life sentence and just like that, the Teflon Don was no more.
Discover the most fascinating facts about Gotti’s life in the gallery above.
After taking a look at these John Gotti facts, discover the stories behind some of history’s other infamous crime kingpins with these Pablo Escobar facts and Al Capone facts.