Why The Auction Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Glasses Caused So Much Online Controversy

Whether on display in a museum or in the hands of private collectors, the possessions of condemned criminals have long been sought-after items. Sometimes referred to as "murderabilia," these objects might be the very lethal weapons a killer employed, as was the case with the .38 Colt Cobra Jack Ruby used to kill JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, which the Associated Press reports sold for $220k in 1991. Or, they could be an innocuous artifact they left behind, like the chopsticks that were once used by convicted Japanese murderer Issei Sagawa (via Serial Killer Shop). 

Recently, the popularity of the Netflix series "Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" has made collectors of these macabre items scour the internet in search of anything items connected to one of the 20th century's most notorious killers. Though true Dahmer murderabilia is scarce, one such item has recently been reported as up for sale to the highest bidder by a Canadian collector. 

Taylor James, owner of the website "Cult Collectibles" told TMZ in an exclusive interview that he had a pair of Jeffrey Dahmer's glasses, worn by the Milwaukee Cannibal while he served time in prison. The glasses are just one of several Dahmer-related items in the possession of James, whose webpage specializes in selling objects once possessed by or related to serial killers. According to The Hill, social media posts criticized the move, with one person tweeting that the selling of the glasses amounts to the "fandom" of the necrophiliac cannibal who killed at least 17 men and teen boys. 

Someone who used to work for Lionel Dahmer got possession of the glasses

James claims that he was able to garner possession of the murderer's eyewear after he was contacted by a former housekeeper of Lionel Dahmer. The unnamed party was employed by Dahmer's father, and reached an agreement in which James would manage and broker the sale of various items once owned by Dahmer, in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.

James currently has several items on his Cult Collectibles site, most carrying a pretty hefty price tag. For $10k, you can become the new owner of a bible owned by Dahmer while he was imprisoned. A cool $3,500 will get you an original 5th-grade class photo of the future killer, while $4k will buy a 1973 family photo featuring Lionel, Jeffrey, and Jeffrey's younger brother David. Big spenders could find themselves taking home the very urn that held Dahmer's ashes, which is currently listed at $250k.

Though James once sold a different pair of Dahmer's glasses on his website before, curiosity seekers will not be able to find his current score on the page. Those interested in purchasing the glasses must contact James directly.

For those looking for additional Dahmer murderabilia, you'll probably be out of luck. Decades ago, a group of businessmen in Milwaukee made finding genuine Dahmer-owned items virtually non-existent.

Investers bought and destroyed Dahmer's possessions

The many family members of Dahmer's victims were awarded a whopping $80M settlement in civil court by a judge who found that Dahmer was civilly liable for their deaths (per the Orlando Sentinel). But being incarcerated and making pennies an hour would make this an impossible amount to fork over to the plaintiffs. An idea was hatched that involved selling the contents of Dahmer's apartment to the highest bidders, the money to be split between them. Included in the haul was the refrigerator Dahmer kept several victims' remains in, the steel drum that was used to dissolve some of their bodies, assorted tools used by Dahmer to torture and kill his prey, and his toothbrush. But that auction never became a reality.

The founder of the Milwaukee Civic Pride Fund, real estate developer Joseph Zilber, had a better strategy. According to the Associated Press, he petitioned the court for the fund to obtain sole possession of the property so that the items could be destroyed. Not wanting any grisly mementos of Dahmer to be sold at auction, Zilber was successful in getting the court to release them to his custody. The remaining Dahmer items that had already been placed in the hands of victims' families were purchased by the fund at a price tag of over $400k. All the proceeds were equally split among the plaintiffs in the civil suit.  

Zilber and company had the items destroyed at a waste management site out of state. Clearly, none of these items included what Dahmer possessed in prison, which is how the glasses ended up for sale.