BOSTON (AP) — Some things seem to capture the public perception of gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s life: a sterling silver “psycho killer” skull ring, a rat-shaped pencil holder, a stack of books about the mafia.
But others tell of a mundane, domestic life in hiding with his longtime girlfriend: a coffee pot, a muffin pan, a few dozen T-shirts and pajamas.
Hundreds of items from both sides of Bulger’s life are going on the auction block Saturday as the federal government attempts to raise money for the families of his victims, including 20 people killed by Bulger and his gang and several extortion victims.
“We’re hoping to be able to use his fame — if that’s what you want to call it — to generate some higher prices for some of this stuff,” said Thomas J. Abernathy III, assistant chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service’s asset forfeiture division. “The theme here is to just try to get as much as we can for the victims, but nothing will ever bring their loved ones back.”
Bulger, now 86, was convicted of a host of charges, including participating in 11 murders, during a 2013 racketeering trial. He is serving a life sentence.
Many of the items up for auction were found in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, California, where Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, were captured in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after being tipped to an impending indictment by his FBI handler. Prosecutors said Bulger was a longtime FBI informant, but Bulger denied that during his trial.
Interested buyers can bid on the many animal-themed knickknacks found in their apartment, including nine cat figurines, two cat frames, one cat tile, a cat letter holder, a cat coffee mug and a pair of poodle salt and pepper shakers. There’s also lots of kitchenware: a pancake maker, sauce pans, loaf pans, a crockpot and six cutting boards.
Personal items include the fitness-conscious Bulger’s weight bench and hand barbells.
The live auction at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the web simulcast auction also will include some high-end jewelry, notably a 14-karat gold Claddagh ring with a heart-cut diamond. There is also a replica 1986 Stanley Cup championship ring.
Geoff Schumacher, the content director for The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, said he plans to participate in the online auction.
Schumacher said the museum would be interested in Bulger’s personal belongings, but other bidders might be more interested in generic items.
“There’s a very simple appeal of having something in your own possession that was once owned by someone famous — or in ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s case, infamous,” he said.
Steve Davis, whose sister, Debra Davis, was killed in 1981, said he has no interest in the auction. Steve Davis believes his sister was killed by Bulger, but the jury made no finding on her death.
“I have no desire to see anything of his,” Davis said. “I think the people who are going to bid on it — to own a piece of the rat bastard he was — it’s really sick.”