(Joe Veix) For whatever reason, many of the world’s most notorious murderers take up painting. Usually it’s as a light hobby to pass the time while serving out life sentences, and as a means to indulge their massive egos in the twilight of their lives.
This isn’t to suggest that all killers are struggling artists, or vice versa, but who who knows? Maybe that brooding, sensitive starving artist friend of yours is actually, deep on the inside, a secret coldblooded psycho killer. Below are 11 of the most prominent killer artists, and their frightening works.
John Wayne Gacy
An American serial killer active in the ’70s, Gacy raped and murdered 33 teenage boys, usually while dressed as a clown, and buried them in a crawl space underneath his suburban home.
While in prison, he took up painting, creating self-portraits of himself dressed as his “Pogo the Clown” character, and the seven dwarfs. In 1994 he was executed by lethal injection at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. His final words were, “Kiss my ass.” His works have sold for as much as $20,000. (Images)
In Florida in 2012, Zimmerman followed and then shot to death unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. After he was acquitted for the crime, he took up painting. His first piece sold for over $100,000 on eBay. (Image)
During World War II, Churchill ordered the unnecessary firebombing of Dresden, murdering roughly 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians (some possibly inflated/propagandistic estimates place the number at over 100,000, which includes the number of refugees killed fleeing the destruction). He started painting in his 40s, creating more than 500 works, mostly of impressionistic landscapes. (Image)
Keith Hunter Jesperson
Also known as the “Happy Face Killer,” for the happy faces he drew in letters to the media and prosecutors, Jesperson claims to have killed over 160 people from 1990-1995, mostly transients and prostitutes, though only eight murders have been confirmed. He’s currently serving a life sentence for his crimes, and has taken up painting. (Image)
In the mid-’80s, Ng, along with his companion Leonard Lake, raped and murdered 11-25 people, using a custom-built dungeon on Lake’s property in rural California. He’s currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison, where he’s taken up painting bizarre scenes involving mermaids and sharks. (Image)
Hitler was responsible for the deaths of at least 11 million people. Before becoming one of history’s worst monsters, Hitler failed as an artist while living in Vienna, painting hundreds of shoddy works. A few were recovered after WWII and sold for thousands of dollars, while others are still held by the U.S. government. (Images)
Convicted in 2000, Gaynor murdered at least eight women, posing the victims in especially gruesome positions to traumatize whoever discovered the bodies. He’s currently serving eight life sentences, and spends some of his time making works like “Murder Beach,” pictured below. (Image)
Henry Lee Lucas
Though Lucas was convicted of murdering eleven people after being arrested in 1983, it’s estimated he killed over 600, though he claimed to have killed at least 3,000, cannibalizing some of them. The most likely death toll is 350 people, between the years of 1960-1983, in Texas, Michigan, and Florida, making him one of the worst serial killers in the world. In 1998,
Lucas’s death sentence was coommuted to life in prison by George W. Bush. He spent his time in prison painting, before dying in 2001 at the age of 64. (Image)
In the ’60s, Manson lead the Manson Family cult in California, and ordered the murders of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. He is also a musician artist, and is currently serving out a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison. (Image)
Between 1972 and 1989, Shawcross murdered 14 people in upstate New York. Many of his victims were killed while he was on parole. He created a few psychedelic paintings before dying in prison. (Image)
George W. Bush
While governor, George W. Bush sanctioned the murder of 152 prisoners, many with deeply flawed trials. He held the record of the most executions carried out under any governor in American history, until Rick Perry took over in 2000. As President, he and his neoconservative administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify going to war with Iraq, largely for purposes experimental nation building and revenge, where the number of deaths caused by the war range from 100 thousand to one million people.
After he left office, Bush hired a local artist to teach him to paint, creating deeply isolating and depressing self-portraits, as well as paintings of his dogs, and Jay Leno. (Images)
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