Crime does not pay. Crime history, however, can make you filthy stinking rich. Sure, buying and selling John Wilkes Booth's mustache clippings over and over again can work well, but there are much more creative ways people have turned our fascination with killing into veritable cash cows. Just ask any serial killer -- there's more than one way to skin a cat.
What do you do with the site where a great evil has been vanquished? Do you erect a shrine in honor of its victims? A museum to spread awareness? Do you build a statue only to pull it down again? Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden met his demise in 2011, decided on a different approach: They're building the wildest, wettest, most kickass amusement park in the world!
After 9/11, most of us were convinced that bin Laden was permanently hiding out in caves, fighting off rickets, loneliness, and the growing urge to sit on a stalagmite with no pants on. But for the last years of his life, he was in fact chilling in a walled villa in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. So when he got SEALed to death, the revelation really did a number on Pakistan's international cred, especially since the most wanted man on the planet was living embarrassingly close to both Pakistan's capital and an "elite military academy." (Although who knows how elite it was if they couldn't figure out ol' Pappy Sam from two towns over had his face on more playing cards than the jack of spades.)
For the next few years, being known for harboring an architect of evil wasn't doing Abbottabad's ailing tourist industry any favors. The town was once one of the premier holiday destinations in the region, which is known for its pleasant climate and beauty, but it had been in steady decline for years. The last TripAdvisor review only read: Loved my stay at first, great outdoor climbing, but when I ordered room service, six armed men barged in and repeatedly shot me in the head. Two stars.
But that is all about to change. In order to wipe the slate clean, the provincial government has decided to give Abbottabad a makeover. With the help of some generous sponsors / land developer sharks, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is building an amusement park and resort. And not just any amusement park and resort. Planned to be built over the next five years, the $30 million project will feature restaurants, ski ramps, a boating lake, a zoo, several water sports, rock climbing, and a mini golf course, all of which will offer guests a stay they'll never forget. It'll truly be the 9/11 of holidays.
Pakistan's tourism board is quick to assert that this isn't some ploy to make people think of Abbottabad as a tourist paradise instead of the place where bin Laden spent so much time that his favorite coffee was "the usual." "This project has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden," said the provincial minister for tourism and sport, who presumably then gave a knowing wink, put a 50 in the reporter's pocket, and added, "If you catch my drift, fella." Regardless of what their intentions are or aren't, this ridiculously expensive project will surely boost the local economy, enrich several contractors, and restore the region's reputation. Thanks, Osama.
Josef Fritzl, the Austrian ghoul who looks like Vincent Price and acts like a monster even Vincent Price wouldn't have played, was responsible for the kidnapping and methodical rape of his daughter Elisabeth inside his dungeon-like cellar. He was caught and jailed in 2009, and while the cellar has been filled with concrete, the house of horrors still stands. However, a couple of entrepreneurs say they've found a way to make everyone forget the house was once symbolic of exploitative misogyny and female slavery: by stuffing a bunch of young strippers into it.
When Fritzl was put behind bars and his family was free to GTFO, the Fritzl house in Amstetten, near Vienna, was put on the market. Unsurprisingly, it did not attract a lot of interested buyers. The front is south-facing, the interior is outdated, oh, and the cellar used to be an incestuous rape prison.
But where most see a nightmare with a leaky roof, some see opportunity. The property was eventually bought by Ingrid Hauska, wife of local strip club owner Herbert Hauska. Hauska aims to turn the house into ten apartment units -- for their strippers. "We have lots of trainees, some from (nearby towns) Persenbeug and Ybbs, and so we need employee flats." Which begs the question: If they're still in training, does that make the house technically a dorm for strippers? Student strippers? So somewhere in a German Starbucks, there's a girl working the espresso machine so she can pay for going to stripper school? Meta.
But Hauska has an even nobler goal than stockpiling strippers: banishing evil. "It can't stay empty for ever. We need to bring life into it. In two years it will be a house like any other." And so, by rebranding the Fritzl house as a ten-trainee-stripper boarding house like any other, they'll "bring down the curtain" on the house's past. And you know what happens when they bring down the curtain: Time for Candy to come on stage. Candy to the stage.
O.J. Simpson is the most famous legally-not-a-murderer in the world, but his biggest moment of infamy came before his trial, when he briefly tried to escape the police. For a gripping 90 minutes, the entire world was watching a white Ford Bronco going about 30 on the interstate while cops were patiently waiting for Simpson to run out of gas or die of old age.
Luckily, picture-in-picture was already a thing, so no one had to miss The Price Is Right for this snoozefest.
In the car with Simpson was his longtime friend / short-term hostage, Al Cowlings, who owned the Bronco. After the "chase," Cowlings received numerous offers from crime enthusiasts to buy his car, which by now was more famous than the football player himself. Cowlings was originally going to sell the car to a company called Startifacts, but when O.J.'s former agent, Mike Gilbert, discovered it was going to be used for touring people from the chase scene to Nicole Brown Simpson's grave, he and some friends bought it instead to keep it out of the spotlight. So for over 15 years, the Bronco hadn't been driven for more than 20 miles, being carefully hidden in a garage complex with four flat tires and enough dust to write a Russian novel in.
Not that Gilbert didn't receive plenty of bids for the Bronco, but he and his pals had no intention of profiting from it. They merely enjoyed owning "the second-most-viewed car in American history," after the limo they still haven't washed all of JFK out of. But then the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas made the owners a different offer: They wanted to rent the mobile hostage situation and put it in front of their exhibit on sports memorabilia. After realizing they could still make money off the Bronco without having to part with it, Gilbert agreed and took the car back on the road. After its stint in Vegas, the car was carted to Connecticut to serve as a lawn ornament in an ironic art show, before eventually winding up in the part of the Alcatraz East Crime Museum that isn't all depressing black-and-white photos.
But then in August 2017, with O.J. coming back in the news over his impending parole, Gilbert and his co-owners felt it was time to turn a beat-up car into a few dozen college funds. They agreed to sell it on History's Pawn Stars for a whopping one-and-a-quarter-million dollars, a tad more than shitty '90s SUVs tend to go for on Craigslist. However, the deal fell through, so now the Bronco is again sitting in a parking lot, waiting for a new owner. What a coincidence, because O.J.'s getting out soon, and he'll definitely need a new car. He could even take the Bronco on a trip down memory lane (or as homicide detectives call it, returning to the scene of the crime (allegedly)).
Guns are the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme. It's so easy: Simply point one at someone, and they just give you their valuables. Even though they're all terrifying ATM machines for sociopaths, one gun has proven itself to be a veritable golden goose -- even shooting a few rounds could make you filthy rich.
This .38 Colt Cobra revolver reached immortality when Jack Ruby aimed it at Lee Harvey Oswald and shot him in the chest. JFK's killer died, Ruby was arrested, and the gun ended up in an evidence locker. But when Ruby died of cancer a few years later, the gun entered a long and angry custody battle between Jack's brother Earl and his former lawyer. Finally, in 1991, a judge ruled that the gun got to go live with Earl, who held the weapon that changed history, the instrument of the most important thing his family had ever done ... and immediately sold it in order to pay off his debts and ginormous legal fees.
The gun was snatched up for a whopping $220,000 by a buyer who wished to remain anonymous, out of fear he would get mobbed by people outside of the auction -- a strange worry, given that he was walking out with a gun. The mysterious owner was Anthony Pugliese III, a Florida real estate developer (which are about the seven shadiest words we've ever read). Though Pugliese said he didn't want any publicity, he didn't exactly keep the gun quiet. Wanting to show off his new prize on The Larry King Show, he sent it with one of his flunkies to Washington, D.C. -- where said flunky got arrested for walking around with a gun in Washington, D.C. Apparently, trying to convince cops you're only armed because you're on your way to see Larry King is a good way to spend the night in jail.
But soon after, Pugliese found a new way to make money without ever leaving Ruby's gun out of his sight. He figured that whenever he needs to generate some more cash, all he has to do is squeeze the trigger a few times. Fired bullets from Ruby's gun have made it to charity auctions all across the country, selling for around a thousand dollars apiece -- though he insists that he hasn't made a cent off the lead. He's shooting it all for the kids.
Pugliese did put the revolver up for auction in 2008 in order to fund his new dream: building Florida's first eco-sustainable city. However, the auction fell through when he refused to part with it for less than one million dollars. We don't know why he even bothered. A few boxes of ammo and some finger lotion, and he could buy all the meth-head-repellent solar panels he needs.
When you're famous, everyone wants a piece of you, dead or alive. As we've mentioned before, the body parts of the famous(ly) deceased have a habit of winding up in places severed necrotic tissue has no business being. But not even the maddest of prophets could ever have predicted that the brain of the most famous serial killer would find its way into the hands of the most vapid reality star.
John Wayne Gacy was a serial killer, rapist, and creepiest clown since whoever graduated clown college right before him. During the '70s, he was responsible for the deaths of over 30 boys and men, which resulted in his capture and execution in 1994. But for an entire decade, nobody was really sure what had happened to Gacy's brain. Eventually, the brain was discovered in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, who had been keeping it in slices in her basement. Morrison, a forensic psychiatrist specializing in sociopathic behavior, had interviewed Gacy many times during his incarceration. After his death, she managed to talk his sisters into giving her ownership of his brain. So she arrived at his autopsy, bagged the brain, and drove off with it sitting in the passenger seat like she was picking up Thai food. She then hid away the body part in a hidden compartment in her basement so nobody would ever find out -- because you don't spend that much time around serial killers and not pick up a thing or two.
Over the years, Morrison quietly invited researchers over to her basement to examine the brain tissue for her own private research. However, nothing important was ever discovered, so the good doctor put her research on pause, in the hopes that scientific development would discover new ways to poke around in a brain. Not soon after, the good doctor started offering viewings of Gacy's grey matter to anyone who would take her up on the offer. Luckily for her, one of the few takers was famous enough propel Gacy back into the depressing limelight: Khloe Kardashian. You know, the ... um ... the one who ... hmmm ...
During an episode of Kourtney And Khloe Take Miami, Khloe wants her producer to book an actual serial killer on her radio show. "Honestly, I live with a sociopath now and I'm fine," she says, not really narrowing her family down by much. Khloe reveals she has always been obsessed with serial killers and sociopaths, so when her producer offers her the chance to see John Wayne Gacy's brain, and then explains to her who John Wayne Gacy is, she is on board.
So in the sanctity of Dr. Morrison's downtown office, Khloe Kardashian observes the brain of John Wayne Gacy. And the best part of all? Khloe is totes bored. She compares Gacy's shrivelled brain to a "hamburger patty," and calls it "soooo small." And while we don't know what indignities befall serial murderers in the Seventh Circle of Hell, we doubt it tops having a Kardashian mock you for the size of your brain.
For more attempts at witticisms and his personal recipes for toilet wine, do follow Cedric on Twitter.
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