WEIRD NEWS

Unabomber's Handwritten Manifesto Worth Less Than His Hoodie

06/01/2011 08:08 am ET | Updated Aug 01, 2011

The Unabomber thought so highly of his environmental manifesto that he threatened to keep killing if the New York Times and Washington Post didn't publish it.

But 15 years after he was arrested at his remote cabin outside Lincoln, Mont., his twisted words seem to be worth less than his ratty sweatshirt.

The U.S. Marshall's office is currently holding an online auction of the personal effects of Ted Kaczynski, who, between 1978 and 1995, engaged in a mail bombing spree, killing three people and injuring 23 others.

The 68-year-old terrorist is currently serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Florence, Colo. The auction of his belongings ends June 2 and all the money raised will be used to pay off a $15 million restitution order to his victims and their families.

Since Kaczynski's actions were designed to protest modern society's "industrial-technological system," there aren't nearly enough possessions on the auction block to raise $15 million, especially because his most valuable possession -- the cabin he built in the Montana wilderness -- is now on display in the Washington, D.C. Newseum.

Still, at least two items are getting some serious bids: His 35,000 word handwritten manifesto currently has a bid of $17,525, while the iconic hoodie made famous by the artistic rendering in the FBI's "Wanted" poster is up to $20,025 -- though for that price, the successful bidder will also receive a pair of sunglasses.

Another item attracting interest is Kaczynski's Smith-Corona typewriter. Bids for that are currently around the $11,000 mark.

Other items have attracted less attention. The top bid for a hand-bowed wood saw that Kaczynski used is currently only $310, while handwritten letters to his Aunt Frida are only getting bids around $250.

Of course, some people might say it's a sad sign of the times that the auction is even taking place, and you won't get an argument from art historian and appraiser Elyse Luray, who is best known for her work on the PBS series "History Detectives."

But she still believes there is value to be found in the auction.

"I hate to say it, but there is some collectibility in this auction," Luray told AOL Weird News. "This is one of the most tragic events in U.S. history and the manifesto has historical value as does the typewriter that he used to type his two manifestos. You have to take the emotion out of it."

Luray dismisses most of what is being sold, figuring it is only going to be of value to "some weird who wants something belonging to the Unabomber."

Still, she can see why something as mundane as Kaczynski's hand saw might be selling for much more than its actually worth.

"Hype increases value," she said. "On the other hand, things like Marilyn Monroe's dresses or Liz Taylor's jewelry will retain value over the years."

Still, crime memorabilia collectors like Scott Michaels think there is a lot of value in being able to tell friends and neighbors that the saw they are borrowing was once used by the Unabomber.

Michaels is the proprietor of Dearly Departed Tours, a company that shows crime aficionados visiting Los Angeles all the city's most infamous crime-oriented sights.

But Michaels is also a collector who has in his possession some extraordinary pieces of macabre memorabilia, including a piece of John Denver's plane, a hunk of the Hindenberg, and a tile from the swimming pool where Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones drowned. He also owns a clown painting made by serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Michaels makes no bones about his hobby (unless, of course, he chooses to buy one for his collection), but admits he often has to defend it.

"This is history I choose to embrace," he said. "On the other hand, I don't understand why people collect coins. You know, this is more common than people want to admit. Take a look at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The people that are going there are basically there to see where JFK was shot."

From an objective viewpoint, he can see the value in the Unabomber's hoodie.

"That hoodie is iconic," he said. "It really is the 'tah-dah' item, but the documents are interesting too."

Yet if he were to bid on an item himself, Michaels knows which one he'd choose.

"I'd gravitate towards the saw," Michaels said. "I like the human touch, knowing that he probably used it. I remember when they were doing a Marilyn Monroe auction. I never could have afforded the dresses, but I did purchase some golf course pencils that were stuck in her junk drawer."

Sadly, Michaels doesn't have the room in his house to hold his entire collection. Much of it is in storage, where it will remain until he is able to open an office-slash-museum large enough for his creepy collectibles.

Although the market for crime memorabilia might seem to be new, criminologist Jeffery Ian Ross Ph.D. says it's been going on for a few hundred years.

"Ever since the invention of the printing press, the public hase been fascinated by crime," Ross said. "I think the reason that the memorabilia has a certain appeal is partially motivated by boredom and voyeurism and a desire to have a connection with what's going on in the news."

By the way, if you're thinking of jumping in on the auction at the last minute hoping to get rich off the Unabomber's memorabilia, Michaels has one word of advice: Don't!

"I couldn't imagine buying any of this in order to make money," he said. "This is more about having something that you find interesting to own. It's kind of fun to say, 'Hey, Jeffrey Dahmer used to own that video cassette of 'Exorcist III.'"

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