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Murderabilia is a term identifying collectibles related to murders, murderers, or other violent crimes. ‘Serial killer art’ is defined as artwork created by serial killers while in prison. Often, this process is used as a therapy device, or for further understanding a particularly disturbed psyche. The artists usually vary dramatically in skill and themes covered. John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, and Henry Lee Lucas are a few of the better known American serial killer artists. Perry Smith, the mass murderer known from Truman Capote’s famous nonfiction work ‘In Cold Blood,’ was also a prolific artist.

Collectors typically must have direct contact to obtain and authenticate this art. The actual pieces can sell for large sums of money depending on the individual artist, and their notoriety through serial killing. Murderabilia is a controversial area of the collecting world, as evidenced by the public backlash to the idea of selling or profiting from violent crimes. In 2005, a serial killer’s artwork was sold online in Massachusetts. State lawmakers proposed to block the activity, setting off a debate on free speech rights of prisoners.

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