Nicholas Goldberg: The terrifying battle over Charles Manson’s small fortune | Writers

NICHOLAS GOLDBERG Tribune Content

A heavy and heavy battle is going on in a courtroom in Los Angeles to win control of the property of the famous murderer and cult leader Charles Manson.

All that’s up for debate about what he wants are the clothes he owned and two or three guitars — the ones he had in Corcoran State Prison when he died. Dated in 2017. Some personal documents. Perhaps the rights to some of the songs he has written are commercially protected.

Not much. But it was enough to spark five years – now – of legal battles. It resumed at a hearing Thursday in LA County Superior Court.

Why should anyone care so much about the little assets left of a dancer who spent more than 40 years in prison?

Well, because they cost more than they should, of course. The old psychopath’s used clothes, it turns out, are valuable to collectors of truly crime-related memorabilia. Scribblings can bring more.

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“Murderabilia,” as it is sometimes known, is a living trade. Two weeks ago, a watch belonging to Adolf Hitler sold for $1.1 million at an auction in Maryland.

I could only think: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you can wear on your wrist this amazing gold bracelet from the man who invaded Poland and started the end of the world!”

Other killer collectibles that have gone on the market in recent years include paintings of John Wayne Gacy, who sexually assaulted, tortured and killed at least 33 young men and boys Young in the 1970s. His paintings are valued at thousands of dollars each. People bought sod from the backyard of the Sacramento ranch run by serial killer Dorothea Puente. There he buried his victims.

Money believed to have been taken from the office of murderer, cannibal and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer has been posted online for hundreds of dollars.

In a world where fans pay for finger amputations and amputations from famous killers, there’s no doubt good money to be made from Manson’s old guitars.

Only two of the original fighters for the cult leader’s fortune are still running: his putative grandson, Jason Freeman, and a collector, Michael Channels, who loved Manson and had a copy of the will he says Manson signed everything over to him.

Freeman is looking to prove he is who he says he is. Channels endeavors to demonstrate that the interest it receives is legal and legitimate.

Just a few weeks ago, Manson’s half-sister released her claim.

‘Famous Monk’

On one level, this is an old heritage melodrama. The struggle between those who want to register with dueling wills or secret codicils or broken paternity is an old story. Consider what Mr. (Spoiler alert: In “Bleak House,” years of legal fees cost Jarndyce all of his wealth.)

But the Manson case is not an old, contested case. The game is extended by our American celebrities.

And the killer side adds a new twist. The idea to collect souvenirs is reminiscent of something far, far away – the veneration of religious relics in Europe. In those days, there was an important trade in the hair, teeth, bones, pieces of clothing and other remains of beloved saints and martyrs, often believed to have talismanic healing powers.

However, one thing to be thankful for is the hand of St. Francis Xavier or the tongue of St. Anthony of Padua. They are religious people. It’s another thing to lust after the socks, nails or hair of a Manson, Dahmer or Gacy.

Seeking to understand why so many Americans fear criminals, I called Scott Bonn, a criminal activist and author of “Why We Love the Serial Killers.” He notes that killers are “exotic, rare and deadly.” Because they cross a line between people and animals, because they take evil to the extreme, we respect them and we make “famous mones” out of them. them.

“They’re followers,” Bonn said. “If people can find something that’s been held, preserved and created by these famous people, it’s exciting.”

I don’t understand. It is difficult to buy things because they are touched by evil and crazy people. What’s more, it’s user-friendly. Think of the feelings of the families of the victims when they see the paintings of the killers – or​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ economic

However, in an article in Rolling Stone, Channels spoke about the collection as if it was the victim. “Many of the people who commit suicide are loving, honest, god-fearing people who keep quiet about their interest in the hobby because of the stigma that comes with it,” Channels said. .

People are always fascinated by history, by fame – and by murder, especially, going back to Jack the Ripper and before.

Criminology museums are located at the end of the 19th century. The story of murder goes back to biblical stories, to ancient stories and legends. Collecting material based on such stories should make everyone a little bit more excited.

Efforts have been made over the years to ban murder and prevent criminals from getting away with it. But it was unsuccessful in stopping the third party from buying and selling the collectibles.

So expect to see Manson’s guitars on the market not too long from now.

Nicholas Goldberg is a columnist for The Los Angeles Times.

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