A piece of property once owned by one of Wisconsin’s most notorious criminals was sold this past weekend to the TV host of “Ghost Adventures” on the Travel Channel.
The auctioneer, George Pientka, says, “It was crazy. All the calls from all over the United States and from Canada.”
Pientka has been auctioning antiques for 15 years, but says few have as much of a story as a dusty cauldron abandoned in a client’s garage.
Pientka describes when he first saw the cauldron: “I go, yeah a cauldron. They come up once in a while. And he says, well this one was owned by Ed Gein.”
Ed Gein, the serial killer from Plainfield in Waushara County, was convicted in 1968 for brutally murdering two women, in addition to digging up and mutilating corpses.
A cauldron from Gein’s home had since been untouched among a man’s family treasures in Grand Marsh.
Pientka says the former owner’s parents bought it from an auction with many of Gein’s possessions. He says the auction was held March 30, 1958.
In a notarized letter to the State of Wisconsin, the former owner says his grandmother “painted the cauldron black, planted flowers in it, and said it was a memorial for those who died at the hands of a serial killer.”
“Our hearts sank,” says Dorothy Pientka, co-owner of Pientka Auction Service with her husband George. “It’s a very sad story, and we didn’t want to glamorize it in any way shape or form.”
The couple decided to advertise the item as “a cauldron with a story.” But just days before the auction, the story and the connection to Ed Gein got out.
The TV host of “Ghost Adventures” tracked down the auctioneers.
Host Zak Bagans says, “With my expertise and my gift in the field of the paranormal and sensitives, I wanted to try to connect to the spirits.”
Bagans bought the cauldron for $2,800. But George Pientka says it could have gone for more than $10,000 if publicized.
George says normally a cauldron like this would go for 200 to 500 dollars. It started to make him uncomfortable after a thousand dollars. He says, “When it got to a certain spot, I was just sitting there thinking about all the hurt that this thing has–anything related to Mr. Gein brought.”
But Bagans assures, “My intentions are good intentions: to try to help the energy or spirits or victims that are attached to it.”
After half a century, the “cauldron with a story” is on its way to a ghost story-teller’s home.