eBay auction reunites butterfly smuggler with treasures
RACINE - From a cramped room in his home here, Rich Brandes does a nice little business finding other people's junk and selling it as treasure on the auction site eBay.
"Flea markets, rummage sales, estate sales, yard sales. I sell just about everything you can think of," Brandes said.
Last week, Brandes was selling a set of three dioramas holding beautifully mounted butterflies.
It was bid on and won by Chuck Kondor, the same man who caught and displayed them nearly four decades ago.
"It's kind of spooky, really," Kondor said, beaming at one of his long-lost displays.
Spooky in a way that might surprise you, as Kondor lost most of his collection when he went to prison.
In 1995, he pleaded guilty and did five months in federal prison for smuggling illegal butterflies into the country.
Kondor remembers each of his treasures, and insists these beauties are all legal.
"This is the one that stuck out right there, the Alcides," he said, pointing to a moth with broad stripes on its wings. "I only collected a few of those, even though it's very common."