LAKE HAMILTON, Fl. (WTVJ) - A clown collection is no laughing matter, Richard Levine has found out. He has been trying to figure out what to do with his father-in-law's collection of clown-related items such as photos, dolls, carousels, paintings, magazines and even costumes.
His father-in-law, Jack Klein, otherwise known as "Clown Jackey," died in 2010, leaving his wife his 13,000-piece collection, which he had started in the late 1960s.
Originally, Klein had collected more than 20,000 pieces.
"It became a hobby. He started to do it full-time, collecting," said Levine. "He went to hospitals and did magic tricks for kids."
Levine still has the first painting Klein ever collected, a painting of the French mime Marcel Marceau.
In 2003, Klein opened a 3,500-square-foot building in Lake Hamilton in central Florida, which he called "Clown Rushmore" where he put his collection on display.
After the building was damaged in a hurricane and Klein became ill with Lymphoma, he moved the items to Winter Haven and then Lake Wales, before he died.
After Klein's death it took six trucks to transport the items from Lake Wales to Fort Lauderdale.
He has been trying to sell the collection, either as a whole or in pieces.
Klein has sold some on eBay, and donated some to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to a children's hospital.
"There's a lot of clown lovers and collectors all over the place. So, I am thinking it would be great to continue," he said. "My father-in-law, may he rest in peace, was obsessed with these things."
Levine said he wants to maintain Klein's legacy.
"It's very expensive to keep this going, and I'd like all the help that I can get from anybody out there that would like to contribute to it," he said.
So, what was the allure for Klein?
Levine said he found the answer in a 25-year-old VCR tape, which had video zooming in on a clown's face.
"Every face was interesting and different, and it just did something to him every time he looked at one," Levine said.