by Lenore Fedow – Published: January 7, 2015
A thickly outlined clown in a red pin-striped suit smiles from a frameless 14-inch by 18-inch canvas. His red-and-blue-painted face is more creepy than whimsical. He holds a bouquet of multi-colored balloons in his white gloved hand and waves with the other. Pogo the Clown is the alter ego of John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer responsible for the murder of at least 33 young men. Gacy painted Pogo in his cell on death row at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. This signed painting can be yours for $3,500.
To find more paintings by Gacy and other notorious serial killers, browse the many auction sites, such as Dark Vomit, Serial Killer Ink and Murder Auction, that offer “murderabilia,” the memorabilia and artwork of serial killers. The listings include gloves worn by Charles Manson, for $700; a bible owned by the so-called Genesee River Killer, Arthur Shawcross, for $2,000; and a signed Christmas card from the killer Ed Gein for $9,000.
While the hefty prices on these items may seem shocking, victim advocacy groups are even more aghast that such items are being sold at all. Yet despite the backlash from such groups, sellers like Kelly Hutchison, the founder of the Dark Vomit True Crime Gallery, stand by their business plan. “Organizations like these use victim’s families as poster children for their cause,” said Hutchison. “The same organization that will point out that I profit from people’s misery does the exact same thing.”
Hutchison, who refers to himself as a “modern day smut peddler,” said that he didn’t start selling murderabilia to make money and that there isn’t much to be made, in any case. He said his main income stems from selling his own personal artwork, which draws inspiration from the dark and macabre.
“I am fascinated like many others by trying to find meaning in tragedy,” Hutchinson said.
“As an artist myself, it is important for me to portray emotion in my paintings. The same is true for the emotions that I feel and get from reading a letter that I have from an individual condemned to die on death row or trying to understand the person’s artwork…”
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