UPDATE (JUNE 16, 2016):
The auction of the estate of Baird Jones happened yesterday. The biggest seller of the crime-related works was John Gotti’s “Bikini on Mars,” which sold for $1,100. A charcoal drawing of a bald eagle by Kenneth Bianchi went for $500. An ink drawing entitled “Night Stalker” by Richard Ramirez brought $350.
For the majority of the works, however, the starting reserve price was not met, and the auctions closed with no bids. Six different examples of art or letters by Charles Manson, for example, were listed with a reserve price of $400 each, and none received any bids. By contrast, a lithograph by rock star Marilyn Manson did get a bid of $400.
The rest of the crime-related items that didn’t sell at the auction are:
- A lithograph diptych by Michael Alig
- T-shirt autographed by Divine Brown
- Three drawings by John Wayne Gacy
- A note in a greeting card by William Heirens
- Six signed and numbered posters by Jack Kevorkian
- Five drawings by Henry Lee Lucas
- A drawing by Richard Ramirez
- A lithograph autographed by James Earl Ray
- Three drawings by Arthur Shawcross
- Four drawings by Ottis Toole
If you’d like to make an offer for any of the remaining items, you can contact RoGallery via email or call 800-888-1063.
On an unassuming block in Queens, New York, not far from the elevated train and flanked by colorful street art on industrial buildings, is the RoGallery. You’d never know from the outside what impressive and interesting art-world treasures are hidden inside.
Stepping inside, the office and waiting area is full of sculptures and framed art on the walls. RoGallery’s director, Robert Rogal, and his staff casually sit at their computers working, not even seeming to notice that they’re surrounded by works by Picasso, de Kooning, and Warhol. There is also a scratching post for the resident cat.
RoGallery specializes in buying and selling modern and contemporary fine art. But they also handle estates, such as the upcoming auction of the Baird Jones estate on Wednesday. Along with some impressive art pieces, such as works by Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, there are many that are notable more for the celebrity of the artist, such as Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Maila Nurmi (Vampira), James Dean, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney.
The estate also came with a collection of art and illustrated notes by notorious killers such as Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Henry Lee Lucas, Ottis Toole, Arthur Shawcross, William Heriens, Richard Speck, and more.
The estate is the collection of the late Baird Jones, described as a “patron of the arts and gadfly,” and a “publicist, party-thrower, and provocateur.” Jones worked at and threw parties in the late 1970s and ’80s at legendary New York nightclubs like Studio 54, Max’s Kansas City, the Tunnel, and the Roxy. More recently, he was the art curator for Webster Hall. He was also known for contributing gossip to all the notable New York City gossip columnists, including Page Six.
He wrote about his collection of celebrity art and autographs for Artnet, claiming to have spent over $1 million amassing it. He also apparently had the world’s largest collection of hockey-fight videos.
A perhaps even quirkier fact about Jones is that he invented “midget bowling,” “in which people pushed midgets on skateboards at bowling pins,” according the The Villager.
This is the first time that any of these artworks have been on the market. The auction will be held mainly online, and you can bid over the website or the phone. Rogal told Page Six columnist Richard Johnson that he put low estimates on the killer artwork, as he has “no idea what someone would pay for a Charles Manson painting. I wouldn’t want it on my wall.” The gallery has a very small amount of space available for in-person attendance. According to Jessie Gillan, RoGallery’s creative director, they normally only have about a dozen people in-house for an auction, but she said if they need more room, they may move the proceedings outside for the day. The auction will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16. Click here to see the full auction catalog.
Main image: “Axe and Claws” by Ottis Toole. Courtesy of RoGallery.