Convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy spent much of his 14 years on death row in Illinois dabbling in art, creating as many as 2,500 paintings that have developed a morbid fascination for many.
Those pieces have been sold through many sources, and had the Illinois Attorney General's office interested at one point in suing Gacy for any money he might have made to try to recoup the $141,000 cost of incarcerating him.
Attorney general spokesman Ernie Slottag said state officials were never able to determine how much money that ran through his prison account, if any, came from artwork sales.
Clowns were a fascination for Gacy, who himself once performed at parties as Pogo the Clown, and many of the paintings depicted clown scenes.
But other artwork included paintings of the seven dwarfs (as in Snow White), Elvis Presley, Jesus Christ, and a three-piece set of cardinals, which he painted specifically for his mother.
'That could have some particular value, since it was done specially for a family member,' James Quick, owner of James Quick Auctioneers Ltd. of Naperville, Ill., said of the latter piece.
Quick plans to auction off 15 pieces of Gacy artwork on May 14 -- 5 days after Gacy is scheduled to be executed at the Stateville Correctional Center near Chicago.
Quick claims the artwork could bring in as much as $25,000, with autographed copies of an upcoming book -- Question of Doubt -- where Gacy tells his account of the 33 slayings for which he was convicted in 1980, bringing in another $25,000.
Quick said Gacy artwork exists in abundance, but the upcoming execution will help increase its value to the morbid.
'When he is put to death, there won't be any more Gacy paintings,' Quick said. 'It will end the supply, and now it will be up to the demand to determine value.
'There's that ghoulish factor among some people that would inspire them to buy stuff like this,' Quick said.
Agreeing was Joseph Kozenczak, a former Des Plaines police lieutenant who was instrumental in Gacy's arrest and prosecution.
'To me, it's ludicrous to want that stuff just because he's a killer,' Kozenczak said, also critical of its quality. 'I've seen grade school kids paint better than him.'
Despite the revenues brought in from Quick's sale, and others in past years, the Gacy estate would not benefit.
Illinois has laws prohibiting inmates from profiting from their crimes, and Quick is negotiating with county prosecutors in Chicago as to how much of his proceeds are donated to a Gacy victim relief fund.
Speculation has risen recently that many of the paintings were never done by Gacy, but instead were done by other inmates and only signed by the man convicted of more murders than anyone in U.S. history.
Quick was not concerned. 'We are convinced the items we are selling are legitimate,' he said.