Top 10: Macabre memorabilia
1) John F. Kennedy ambulance – $132,000
A 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance, thought to have transported the body of President Kennedy from Air Force One following his assassination in Dallas on November 22 1963, was sold by Barrett-Jackson in 2011.
In the run up to the auction, the authenticity of the piece was questioned, with some people arguing that the original ambulance had been destroyed in 1986.
In spite of its questionable provenance, the vehicle sold for $132,000.
2) Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin - $87,000
In November 2010 the coffin in which presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was originally buried was sold at auction by the original funeral home owner Allen Baumgardner.
Oswald’s body was exhumed in 1981 in order to disprove the conspiracy theory that he had been replaced with a CIA operative and that his body was not in his grave. He was reburied in a new coffin, and his original one was sold to a collector 29 years later for a sum of $87,000.
3) Fred & Rose West’s ‘murder home’ - £57,750
The house where Fred and Rosemary West began their killing spree was sold for £57,750 in 2000. It was the same house where the West’s 8-year old daughter, Charmaine, was murdered and buried under the ground floor for 20 years before being discovered in 1994.
In spite of its spooky history, the house was rented out as three rather un-scary flats.
4) Lenin death mask - £35,000
A death mask is a wax or plaster cast of someone's face, made following their death.
A death mask of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, one of only 14 known made by sculptor Sergey Merkurov, is being sold by Paul Fraser Collectibles on their website for £35,000.
It is thought to be the first original death mask of Lenin to reach the market in 21 years.
5) The Pierrepoint collection - £30,000 +
A collection of memorabilia related to the family of the famous British hangman Albert Pierrepoint was sold by Christie’s in 1992 for over £30,000.
Albert Pierrepoint was the longest serving and most famous hangman in Britain and proclaimed at the age of 11: "When I grow up…I should like to be the official executioner".
The collection contained Plaster of Paris casts of Albert’s face and hands, a fine silver watch chain worn by Albert, his father and his uncle, documents and photographs relating to Pierrepoint's term as executioner and Henry Pierrepoint's execution book, amongst other items.
6) Elvis Presley’s autopsy and embalming equipment - $14,000
In 2010, a set of autopsy and embalming tools used on Elvis Presley were put up for auction by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Two lots with a combined pre-sale estimate of $14,000 included the preparation room case report, case sheet, an arterial tube, aneurysm hooks and various other tools from Elvis’s autopsy.
The lots were never sold as they were removed from the auction following a dispute over their authenticity and ownership.
7) John Dillinger’s death mask - $3,660
A cast of the infamous bank robber’s face, made after Dillinger was gunned down in an FBI ambush outside the Biograph Theatre in 1934, was sold by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in November 2010 for $3,660.
The mask was bought by Chicago businessman Ed Hirschland who said: "I'm a Chicago aficionado…One of the areas that's so interesting about Chicago is crime. This is such an incredible crime item."
8) Charles Manson’s fingerprint card - $3,000
A fingerprint card from Folsom State Prison, signed by Manson and displaying a complete set of his fingerprints was sold by Early American in October 2004.
The card, dated October 29, 1969, also included Manson’s height, date of birth, charge: “First Degree Murder” and final disposition: “Guilty”.
9) Yorkshire Ripper letters - £1,966
Peter “The Yorkshire Ripper” Sutcliffe had many letters sent to him by members of the public. A set of letters written by Sutcliffe in response to a letter from a woman from Birmingham was sold at an auction by Trafford Brooks in 2009 for £1966, well over their £450-550 pre-sale estimate.
10) Coronation Street Cat’s ashes - £844
The ashes of Frisky, the cat seen skulking around Weatherfield in the opening credits to popular soap opera, Coronation Street, were sold for £844 by Dominic Winter Book Auctions.
Frisky died at the age of 14 in 2000 from stomach cancer. His ashes were bought by an unknown private collector.
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