Last Days of the Dapper Don

Ravaged by cancer, John Gotti was barely recognizable as the "Dapper Don."

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 9:14 AM

Feb. 26, 2008— -- The last known photo of former mob boss John Gotti shows how the ravages of prison and cancer eroded the cockiness and flamboyant style of the man once known as the "Dapper Don."

The photograph, taken by the Bureau of Prisons just eight months before Gotti succumbed to throat cancer, shows a gaunt, nearly bald Gotti in a gray T-shirt staring grimly at the camera, looking much older than his 61 years.

It's a far cry from the silver-maned mobster who dressed in $1,800 suits as he held court at his many trials or at his Gambino crime family headquarters, the Bergin Hunt and Fish Social Club in Queens, N.Y.

Gotti loyalists remain devoted to the memory of a man convicted of murdering his rivals, including his predecessor, Paul Castellano.

In an email, Gotti's daughter Victoria Gotti told ABC that the photos were "sad, really, since my fathers last wish was to NOT have his grandchildren see him 'ravaged' by cancer. Releasing this photo gives new meaning to the words, 'unimaginable invasion of privacy.'"

Gotti's longtime lawyer Bruce Cutler also believed the images should not have been made public.

"These pictures should never have been released. It's not the right thing to do and it's not pleasant," said Cutler.

"That's what cancer and illness does to people. We should remember John as a remarkable person – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is bad enough he suffered without complaining. There's no reason to put him through this again," Cutler said.

Gotti, whose penchant for expensive suits, silk ties and cashmere topcoats earned him the nickname the "Dapper Don," died at a federal prison hospital in June 2002 while serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering.

Gotti's cancer resulted in lesions on his tongue, neck and cheeks. At the time of his death he had been imprisoned at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.

The photograph, initially obtained by TheSmokingGun Web site through a Freedom of Information Act request, was an "institution commissary photo" taken on Oct. 17, 2001, less than eight months before he died at age 61.

"There's no question, the picture is a stark contrast from when he was the swashbuckling dapper don during his reign as head of the Gambino crime family," said Jerry Capeci, a longtime crime reporter and editor of