Oddly Enough

Gun that killed JFK assassin in pop culture auction

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It is billed as the best pop culture collection ever assembled -- ranging from the gun used to kill the assassin of President John F. Kennedy to the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from “The Wizard of Oz.”

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Collected over the past 25 years by South Florida property developer Anthony Pugliese, the collection, which also includes a whip and the holy grail from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” will be put up for auction next month in Las Vegas.

Arlan Ettinger, president of New York-based auction house Guernsey’s, said the collection of 850 lots could fetch more than $5 million when it goes under the hammer at The Palms Resort and Casino on March 15 and 16.

“This collection is as good as it gets,” said Ettinger, with “The Maltese Falcon” resin statuette sitting on his desk alongside the gun used to kill Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and the “Braveheart” sword from the Oscar-winning film.

“Most collections have one or two great things and then things trail off from there,” he said. “This collection, there would have to be 100 items here, any one of which would be a star attraction anywhere else.”

He said the Colt Cobra revolver used by Jack Ruby to kill Oswald in 1963, just days after Oswald was arrested for assassinating Kennedy, could fetch several million dollars alone. The initials of detectives who handled the gun are scratched on it.

“The whole world saw that unfold live and here’s the very gun and the hat that Jack Ruby was wearing,” said Ettinger, adding that the tag tied to Oswald’s toe to identify his corpse and a lock of his hair were also to be auctioned.

Also up for grabs is the jacket worn by Beatle John Lennon in the “Imagine” video, the wedding dress worn by pop star Madonna in her “Like a Virgin” video, a “Superman” costume worn by Christopher Reeve, and an Andy Warhol paint brush.

Ettinger said Pugliese was selling his collection, which he had kept in a large vault at his offices, because it “had been his passion, but now has taken a back seat” to a green housing development he was working on.

Other items to be auctioned include a Federal Bureau of Investigation badge that belonged to the bureau’s founder J. Edgar Hoover, a wig worn by Elizabeth Taylor for “Cleopatra,” and the leather jacket worn by actor Brandon Lee when he was accidentally shot and killed while filming “The Crow.”

Editing by Eric Beech