Would you like to have a two-headed calf in your living room? Or how about a llama for the bedroom? Maybe a toucan for the windowsill? Perhaps that's how the auction of a collection of more than 3,000 stuffed animals in Denmark went after its owner - a taxidermist widely known as "Bird Hans" - died in 2012.
He left behind what many called "The inheritance from hell."
During his long life as an avid taxidermist and manic collector, Hans filled a disused country estate to the ceiling with stuffed animals. From 1961 and almost until his death, he was mainly engaged in stuffing animals with fiberglass and wood wool.
By the mid-1970s, the stuffed animals were in such demand that he was able to employ four people in his workshop while stuffing himself from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
By the 1980s, however, interest waned. And when no buyer could be found for the platypus or owl Hans had stuffed, they were put on the shelf with the others. And so the house slowly filled up.
Hans called his house the "Zoological Museum" and, while he was still in good health, let people come to see his peculiar collection.
The crowning glory was the Indian elephant, which took "Vogel-Hans" 300 hours to stuff. In the process, he enlisted the help of the fire department to turn the 4.5-ton animal upside down so he could scrape out its entrails.
In addition, his collection included hundreds of birds and common mammals, as well as a wide range of exotic animals. Some of them are not allowed to be stuffed today. But in the 1960s, the self-taught artist could afford a little more.
Thus, his descendants faced an unparalleled bureaucratic circus when they had to dispose of the remains of the museum.
There are strict rules for the trade in animals. Especially for endangered animals. You need a special permit to sell every one of them, says his son, who, along with his siblings, tried to sell his father's life's work as a whole.
There were a few interested buyers, too. But they backed out. It was hard to fathom how expensive it would be to freshen up the old, somewhat worn-out animals so that they were once again worthy of display.
So the family was relieved when they accepted an offer to sell everything together to someone who would then resell through an auto auction house. The auction house also handles obtaining licenses to sell the endangered animals that Hans once stuffed.
The remaining museum building burned to the ground in 2022.
Visited: December 26, 2019 and January 19, 2020.
Location: Undisclosed, Denmark
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