By Daniel Silliman
The costume used by two Clayton County men in a Bigfoot hoax is being sold on eBay.
The online auction closes at 9 p.m., Thursday. By Wednesday night, to the surprise of the seller, 21 different bidders had pushed the price of the "Bigfoot Hoax Body & Display" up over $200,000.
The body is being sold by an Ashville, N.C., group which researchers hoaxes. The group's president, Joshua P. Warren, said the proceeds of the eBay auction will go to reimburse William Lett, an Indiana investor who was fooled into paying $50,000 for what he thought was the corpse of the legendary man-ape creature. The rest of the money will be used in the research of paranormal hoaxes.
"We're taking a bad situation and trying to get some redemption out of it," Warren said. "This was one of the most successful hoaxes that has ever been pulled off ... I think this should be seen by researchers, the curious and historians. I think a show-business-minded person should realize that if you put this thing on display, people would want to see it."
Warren said none of the proceeds will go to the hoaxers: Matt Whitton, a former Clayton County police officer, Rick Dyer, Matt's friend and partner, or Tom Biscardi, a California man who promotes "Bigfoot finds" full-time.
Dyer and Whitton are working with Warren, though, and have agreed to visit whoever buys the hoax costume and "restore the illusion," so it looks like it did when they attracted international attention with their claims to have found a Bigfoot corpse.
The two men are currently facing a lawsuit, brought by the investor who gave them $50,000 for the frozen costume stuffed with butchered animal parts. If the investor makes his money back, the suit could be dropped.
Warren said he didn't know when he posted the item up for auction at a starting bid of $499, if anybody would bid. The item was listed as "Original 2008; Historic," with "item specifics," listing "Weirdness: One of a kind."
The first bidder offered $1,000, though, and after 48 hours, the amount was up to $24,947.
The costume itself can be purchased by the company that makes it for a mere $450 at www.terrordome.com, but Warren said the recreation of the illusion and the "authenticity" of the hoaxers' own costume will be an attraction. "It's the difference between going to Wal-Mart and buying a lightsaber," Warren said, "and having the one in your display case that Darth Vader held in his hand."
The costume, called the "Deluxe Sasquatch," is now being promoted by it's connection to the hoax, with the web site sporting the slogan, "If we can fool the world, then you can fool your friends."
Warren doesn't think selling the "hoax body" glamorizes the hoaxers. The Asheville man believes hoaxes should be studied, to make it harder for future fakes, and aid researchers in separating pranks from real things.
"We want to examine how the media responded," Warren said, "and look at how wishful people were, or how gullible they were. We also want to look at the hoaxer mentality, that psychology, and the lengths these people go to get a kick out of a prank."
Looking at the displayed hoax will be give people the chance, Warren said, to ask themselves, "Would I have been fooled?"