One day with attorney Marc Delman would barely scratch the surface of his mammoth collection of cultural artifacts. Objects from whimsical pop culture to evidence of man’s inhumanity are stashed in storage and displays at his home.
Autographs from all the Beatles (including John Lennon) and the Marx Brothers (including Zeppo) reside near a clown painting by rapist and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, an autographed poem by cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson, and a box full of World Trade Center slag.
Delman’s home, office, and storage space contain more than $250,000 worth of rock ’n’ roll/film memorabilia, medical oddities, “freak show” photos, coffins, funeral photos, medical equipment, and bones (dinosaur, mammoth, and human), along with artifacts from the Civil War, evidence from the Holocaust, American racial intolerance, and other crimes against humanity.
Delman’s fascination with the gory, ghastly, and gruesome started when he was only a kindergartner.
“My interest started at 5 when my parents took me to see The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The movie exposed me to the world of dragons, cyclops, magicians, and a sword-wielding human skeleton,” Delman says. “From that point on, my whole world expanded. I dragged my parents to every museum, exhibition, and horror movie I could find.”
Although overwhelming now, the collection began humbly when, at just 6 years old, the future Omaha curator of curios spent two days marveling at dinosaur exhibits in New York City.
“I began to collect every dinosaur item I could find,” Delman says, adding that this fateful vacation jump-started his interest in the macabre. “A trip to the sideshow at Coney Island brought me to the world of freaks—the tattooed woman, the pinhead, the fat woman, the little person, the beating heart, the pickled baby in a jar.”
Some of Delman’s evidentiary collection of racial intolerance includes a 100-year-old Ku Klux Klan hood, slave shackles, anti-semitic literature from the Third Reich, and racist American pulp magazines. Among the most chilling of these items is a set of eyeglasses from the Warsaw Ghetto, taken from a man en route to a concentration camp.
“I’ve gone out of my way to collect these things,” he says. “The reason I save them is because they are history. If I didn’t save them, they could be lost forever. These things won’t be sold. They are all going to museums.”
The collection is priceless to Delman, who says his family thinks it might be time to unload some things, but he admits that his search continues. He is still looking for two items: lost “Spider Pit” footage from 1933’s King Kong and a genuine “pickled punk,” a deformed fetus in a jar of formaldehyde used in old
“For me, the search is the best part of collecting,” Delman says. “My interests lie in the realm of wonderment and a quest for knowledge. I like to collect the macabre because of its oddness, the deformities, the textures of different items. What most people fear I find interesting and want to examine why.”
This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of 60Plus in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.