Families of victims of the savage gangster Whitey Bulger are sickened by wealthy collectors snapping up expensive "murderabilia", the mobster's possessions.
Some of the families of the murder victims of Irish American gangster James "Whitey" Bulger have said they are sickened at the "blood money" being splashed out on the mobster's possessions by wealthy collectors.
There was widespread outrage following the sale of the former Boston-based gang leader's prison commissary ID card to an anonymous private bidder for over $11,000. The item, a simple Federal Bureau of Prisons vending card, attracted huge interest at a recent New York-based online auction following an opening bid of just $200.
But leading victims-right advocate Andy Kahan, described as one of the U.S.’s top “anti-murderabilia crusaders,” warned that the emotional impact of the sale to relatives of the convicted murderer's victims was "immeasurable.”
He said, "This was a high-ticket item. Most of them don't sell for this amount but Bulger items are rare. This person [the purchaser] has some means to spend that kind of money. It's a trophy, and it's a trophy born of blood money.
"It's probably the most revolting and disgusting feeling that a survivor of homicide has -- that items belonging to someone who has been convicted of killing their loved-one are being sold through a third party for profit.”
However, New York-based auctioneers Lelands.com defended the sale of the vending card and described the item as "a special piece.”
In an interview with The Boston Herald Lelands founder and chairman Joshua Evans insisted his company does not actively pursue so-called murderabilia, but added, "Things do leak through. We are profiting from it in some small way, but if we were not to own it, that would be hypocritical."
Badge of Shame: Bulger victim's widow, advocate decry sale of 'murderabilia' -- "It’s a trophy — and it’s a trophy born of blood money,” said Andy Kahan, a victims-rights advocate for the city of Houston... https://t.co/wufrnOi5g4 pic.twitter.com/k8qO6og2ud— Boston Herald (@bostonherald) March 26, 2018
However, that explanation has failed to appease families of Bulger's victims, including Mary Callahan, whose accountant husband John Callahan was killed on the gangster's orders in 1982.
She said, "I'm 78 years old on a fixed income, and I could use some money."
Kahan added, “Murderabilia has become a burgeoning business. Both killers and third parties are realizing you can make money off some of the most infamous murders in our country's history. We continue to give them infamy and notoriety. The victims are swept under the carpet and forgotten."
Bulger, 88, is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary in Florida for his role in 11 murders in the 1970s and '80s, while running a sprawling South Boston-based criminal empire.
His life of crime was depicted in the 2015 movie Black Mass, in which Johnny Depp starred as Bulger.