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Sale of Chicago serial killer's art draws protests

A Florida collector says he sees nothing wrong with selling the works by John Wayne Gacy.

By Associated Press
Published June 6, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH - Some paintings by executed serial killer John Wayne Gacy are being displayed this month at an antiques store in Palm Beach County, despite the objections of some who say the profit from selling the art is "blood money."

In all, 19 paintings - ranging from a $195 image of a bird to a $9,500 depiction of dwarfs playing baseball against the Chicago Cubs - are for sale. The collection represents about one-tenth of the Gacy paintings collected by Steve Koschal, a Lantana celebrity autograph expert who corresponded with Gacy during the final four years of his incarceration in Illinois.

"You'd be surprised who buys these paintings," Koschal said. "You might think some tough motorcycle gang off the street, but it's doctors, lawyers, professional people, Hollywood and media types."

Gacy, a building contractor and amateur clown, was convicted of luring 33 young men and boys to his Chicago area home for sex and strangling them between 1972 and 1978. Most were buried in a crawl space under the home; four others were dumped in rivers.

He spent 14 years in prison, painting pictures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and fellow serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer before being executed in 1994.

"It's blood money," said Andrew Kahan, director of the Mayor's Crime Victims Office in Houston. He pushed for Texas and California to pass laws blocking people from profiting by selling items associated with violent criminals.

"Nobody would give two cents for his art if it weren't for the fact that he was one of the nation's most prolific serial killers," Kahan said.

Koschal said he doesn't condone what Gacy did, yet also doesn't think he's doing anything wrong.

"Whether you like it or not, there's a huge demand," Koschal said.

The artwork of some of the country's most notorious killers has long had a macabre following. Gacy's clown paintings have hung in galleries nationwide, and pencil drawings by "Helter-Skelter" killer Charles Manson have also been displayed and sold.

Other subjects featured in Gacy paintings include Elvis Presley, Jesus, Mickey Mouse and clowns named Pogo, Patches, Skull and Death.

After his execution, Gacy's artwork was auctioned off. Some people bought the art solely to destroy it; a bonfire in Naperville, Ill., in June 1994 was attended by 300 people, including family members of nine victims who watched 25 of Gacy's paintings and drawings burn.

[Last modified June 5, 2004, 23:51:22]

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