Inheriting a collection of more than 13,000 clown items and figuring out what to do with it is enough to leave you with a sad face. Richard Levine is now trying to wrap his head around the unusual pickle he inherited when his father-in-law and business partner died two years ago and left him essentially a warehouse full of curated items of buffoonery.
There are clown dolls with faces of joy and sorrow. Clown paintings, some more colourful than others. Clown figurines and clown puppets, some tiny, some huge, some very disturbing. There are clown photographs, clown books and clown costumes. Some are worth a lot, while others merit only a laugh. "They need to be in a museum or something, not in some warehouse," said Levine, 58 of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The collection belonged to Jack "Clown Jackey" Kline, who died in 2010 at age 81 after spending more than 50 years buying and amassing the items. Kline, who often dressed up as a clown and visited children hospitals, later opened a Winter Haven storefront museum called Clown Rushmore. Earlier this year, Levine took six round trip trips to Central Florida in a 30-foot truck to bring down his inherited heap of Bozos. He now keeps the Clown collection includes over 13,000 items related to clowns of his father-in-law's obsession in a Davie warehouse bay along with his company's sprinkler equipment.
"My wife and I had to make a decision. Leave it up there and probably lose it, or bringing it down here," Levine said during a recent tour of his warehouse. Levine, who runs the same Waterboy Sprinklers business his father-in-law started in the 1970s, said he barely has had the time to go through all of the items. He hopes to inventory all of it, sell most of it, keep some of it and donate the rest to a local charity group. "I am slowly starting to like them and getting enthusiastic about them. I can see how Jack was into them," Levine said. "I don't go for the sad clowns much though, but I really enjoy the happy ones."