Who Is The Cruelest Artist Of All Time?

There are times when even the most liberal individuals have a problem with welcoming a few artists into the market: it's the case of "murderabilia," art produced by violent criminals. It might be a way for dark souls to pursue creative outlets, but their art is still sometimes an invitation to understanding their sick mind. Effectively, those unheard creatures found a way of expressing themselves by creating art, while simultaneously re-affirming themselves as humans and breaking with taboos that haunted their lives. Here is the list of the cruelest men ever to try to start an artistic career:

1. John Wayne Gacy Jr: The Killer Clown

Life: Gacy was a nice married man that used to dress as "Pogo the Clown" and work at fundraising events, parades and children's birthday parties in 70s Chicago.

Crimes: If you already think clowns are scary, you'll be terrified with the first artist of our list. Gacy's life took a dark twist when he started to rape and torture young boys. After months of investigation, he was finally caught and confessed his crimes. He was convicted for 33 murders and sentenced to death.

Art: Not wanting to waste his time while sitting in death row, Gacy felt he could "bring joy into people's lives" with a paintbrush and developed a new hobby: painting. He would create weird objective art with skulls, disney-like characters and, not surprisingly, clowns. A few months before his execution, dozens of his canvases could be found in auction houses (which caused a lot of criticism and controversy). But this didn't stop people from selling and buying his art; there are still prints available being sold with a certificate of authenticity by a gallery in Las Vegas. They claim that "a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this collection will go to The National Center for Victims of Crime."

2.  Issei Sagawa: The Cannibal Superstar

Life: This short and slightly effeminate Japanese man might looks fragile – and he even describes himself as as a "weak, ugly, and inadequate little man." Probably his colleague Renee Hartevelt never though of him as a threat. They were both attending a Ph.D. program in literature at the Sorbonne Academy in Paris, where Sagawa would often ask Hartevelt for help in his studies.

Crime: One night he invited her for dinner, saying that he would need support translating a text. But Sawaga had other plans: he wanted to absorb her energy. After killing her, he ate various parts of the body. The cannibal shocked the world and was condemned to spend the rest of his life in a mental asylum. His influential father, however, managed to get him extradited back to Japan where, due a confusion with bureaucratic paperwork, Sagawa was in the end considered sane. He still lives as a free man.

Art: From writing food critiques for magazines (the same person that said that human flesh is like raw tuna, a meat that would melt in the mouth just like in a sushi restaurant) to being a start in gory porn movies… Sagawa is an ultimate celebrity. He currently works as an artist and still manages to get young women to pose nude for him. If you are looking for something to hang in your kitchen, you can buy his pastel signed artwork on the Internet.

3. Hitler: Uncreative Mediocre Painter


Life: "Quaint country churches, stately cathedrals, tranquil countryside, and gentle seaside scenes, all painted in soft, soothing
watercolors. These paintings could be the work of an elderly aunt, or even a young amateur artist hoping to make a few bucks selling them to tourists. In fact, the second part is pretty much the truth. Except that the young artist is not just anybody – it’s Adolf Hitler." Yohani Kamarudin

Crime: It might still be a bit hard to believe that the painter of these peaceful scenes would also be the mind that generated darkness and horror in dreams of genetic purity. Hitler was the nucleus of the holocaust, a systematic state-sponsored program that killed millions of people.

Art: It's much easier to see Hitler as the man behind the mass murder of millions than as a hard-working artist struggling to make a living in Vienna when he wasn't enjoying vegetarian picnics. The truth is that the man that the world sees as the ultimate evil always desired to create art. Although his art aspirations were ruined because he failed the entrance exam of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he still said that he wanted to end his life as an artist. After the end of the war, some of his paintings were recovered. Most of them are still being held by the American government,  yet some have been sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Charles Manson: Hollywood Horror Script


Life: Manson has a very troubled biography (son of a prostitute that once tried to sell him at a bar for a pitcher of beer) and started his crimes very early on. He has spent most of his life in prison, that he would even consider as his home. It's also where he learned the skills that would make him famous: his career as a song-writer. It started when he learned to play guitar with a cell mate. Here he also found a book about Scientology, which would give him enough knowledge to re-create himself as a religious guru. He left prison for the second time when he was 32 and started as successful career in the music industry. At the same time, he was building a “family” that would see himself as a leader.

Crimes: Manson lead his followers to commit a serious of hideous crimes including the murder of Roman Polanski's wife – that was pregnant at the time – and her friends (using the blood of the victims to write rude messages on the wall). Although he didn't commit the murders himself (and was able to prove that), he was still convicted by the “joint-responsibility rule” that considers that members of a conspiracy are guilty for the crimes the other members commit. First he was sentenced to death but, after a decision from the Supreme Court of California that temporarily eliminated the state's death penalty, his sentence was made to live life in prison.

Art: Despite the fact that most of his signed artworks are probably fake, there are still a few websites that claim to sell authentic pieces. His art includes abstract paintings, colorful scratches and childish spiders.

5. George Zimmerman: The Ebay Artist


Life: This patriotic American is a proud catholic man that used to work for an insurance company.

Crime: He had a few encounters with police prior to his greatest infamy: the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Although he was unarmed, Zimmerman alleged he did it as an act of self-defense.

Art: Maybe he isn't as cruel as the others from  the list, but he is definitely the most successful one as an artist. The painting of a blue American flag stamped with the words "God," "one nation," and "with liberty and justice for all," was put in auction at Ebay. Although the first offer was less than 1 dollar, it reached astonishing $99,999 within a day and ultimately sold for $100,099.99.

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Article: Chris Phillips