CULTURE SCHLOCK – By Darren Garnick
October 11, 2007
Saddam Hussein is now having a yard sale.
Yes, he’s thankfully dead so he can’t profit from any of the memorabilia from his tyrannical glory days.
And technically, the latest batch of Saddam stuff to hit the market is up for auction. But at the end of the day, there will be plenty of unsold trinkets that will be begging for a best offer.
Get a load of these prices:
— $150,000 – Saddam’s favorite diamond-encrusted Rolex watch that he wore to banquets, Arab summits and other social events.
— $12,000 – Fancy sliver cigarette box allegedly given to a teenage Saddam by his stepfather as a reward for killing his first human being.
— $12,000 – Saddam’s favorite pair of Christian Dior sunglasses, which shielded his eyes from the glare of the Iran-Iraq desert battlegrounds in the 1980s.
— $5,000 – Designer Cartier pen used by Saddam to sign the execution orders for 66 condemned members of his Ba’ath Party.
— $4,000 – Christian Dior necktie taken straight from Saddam’s tie rack (several available).
A bunch of miscellaneous items bound for the “Everything for $5” table include a Thai paperweight given to Saddam by an ambassador, a piece of granite from the original London Bridge, and a ceramic leopard that used to decorate the dictator’s “private recreation room.”
The sale is being conducted on-line by Haitham Rashid Wihaib, Saddam’s chief of protocol (essentially a glorified personal secretary) from 1980 to 1993. Wihaib, who defected to England a decade before Saddam’s capture in the spider hole, does not explain how he got his hands on his former boss’s personal stuff.
As he was fleeing Iraq, did he stick all those Christian Dior accessories under his shirt? How did he cram that ceramic wildcat into a suitcase – or was it an airline carry-on?
The auctioneer’s Web site bio claims his father was an “Iraqi general who was killed in a car accident orchestrated by Saddam.” If that was the case, why would the Iraqi dictator ever want to hire a traitor’s kid as a trusted aide?
Whatever the true origins of this Saddam memorabilia are, there are indications that the items are genuine. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark demanded that Wihaib return a royal Danish medal from Saddam’s collection to her country. The Knight’s Cross of the Order of Dannebrog is awarded for special service to Denmark, and is customarily returned upon the death of the recipient.
Wihaib, who has reportedly agreed to give the medal back, promises to donate 20 percent of his profits to needy Iraqi children, new hospital buildings and various other Iraqi war victim charities.
The other 80 percent goes to a charity named Haitham Rashid Wihaib.
If you’re upset about Wihaib getting rich off genocidal souvenirs, you may take modest comfort in the fact that his marketing timing stinks.
Quite frankly, Saddam Hussein is so 2006.
The buzz has migrated east to his nefarious archrival, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I wonder if he’s been keeping an eye on his personal secretary lately.
Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column runs every Thursday in
Encore. Feedback is welcomed at cultureschlock (at) gmail.com.