Torture Tools For Sale to Nicest Bidder

Collection of medieval flesh-rippers to be sold to aid human rights organizations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2009 12:02 PM CDT
The collection to be sold includes iron masks, a body rack with thumb screws, and a spiked chair.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – A huge collection of medieval tongue tearers, thumbscrews, and assorted flesh-rippers is hitting the auction block soon, but ghouls and dictators won't be welcome bidders, the Los Angeles Times reports. The owner—moved to sell the inherited collection by the debate on Bush-era harsh interrogation—is keen to ensure it goes to a responsible owner and plans to give some of the proceeds to Amnesty International and other rights groups.

The anonymous seller hopes the collection will end up being exhibited as a reminder of the gruesome nature of torture, whether it be in the 16th century or the 21st. "It made perfect sense that you turn something terrible into something good," said the director of Guernsey's auction house. He believes the collection—each piece of which was used in the Holy Roman Empire—will fetch around $3 million, although there are few precedents for the sale of antique torture tools.