Selling Dead People’s Things is a wry behind-the-curtain peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners—while still alive and after their passing. An amusing observer of the human condition, author Duane Scott Cerny entertains in illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. Whether processing the estate of a hoarding beekeeper, disassembling the retro remains of an infamous haunted hospital, or conducting an impromptu appraisal during a shiva gone disturbingly wrong, every day is a twisted treasure hunt for this 21st-century antiques dealer.
While digging deep into the basements, attics, and souls of the most interesting collectors imaginable, traveling from one odd house call to the curious next, resale predicaments will confound your every turn. Be careful where you step, watch what you touch, and gird your heart—Antiques Roadshow, this ain’t!
The Dybbuk box, or Dibbuk box (Hebrew: קופסת דיבוק, romanized: Kufsat Dibbuk), is a wine-cabinet claimed to be haunted by a dybbuk, a concept from Jewish mythology. The box gained notoriety when it was auctioned off on eBay by owner Kevin Mannis, who created a story featuring Jewish Holocaust survivors and paranormal claims as part of his eBay item description. Mannis' story was the inspiration for the 2012 horror film The Possession.
In 2021, Mannis told Input magazine that the Dybbuk Box story was entirely fictional.
In 2003, writer and furniture refinishing business owner Kevin Mannis purchased the cabinet from the yard sale of a local attorney in Portland, Oregon and began developing a backstory. According to Mannis, "The carving in the back of it is my carving. The stone that was in the box is something that is a signature creation of mine also. Make no mistake, I conceived of the Dybbuk Box – the name, the term, the idea – and wrote this creative story around it to post on eBay." Mannis' auction description included a story claiming the cabinet was previously owned by a survivor of the Holocaust in Poland who said it contained the malicious spirit of a dybbuk, and that the box had paranormal powers and was responsible for his bad luck and nightmares. Subsequent owners retold Mannis' story when reselling the item and amplified it with their own claims of "strange phenomena".
One owner, Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri, launched a website that consolidated claims about the cabinet called dibbukbox.com that reportedly received hundreds of thousands of hits and created what has been described as an "internet legend". In 2004, Haxton sold the rights to the story to a Hollywood production company. The subsequent film The Possession, produced by Sam Raimi, was released in 2012. Haxton later gave the cabinet to Ghost Adventures star Zak Bagans to display in his museum. In 2018, fans of rapper Post Malone claimed his spate of bad luck was caused by his contact with the cabinet.
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