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"strange inheritance." thanks so much for watching, and remember, you can't take it with you. >> a homemade hatchet man. >> oh, my god, this is not for real! >> it is. >> what are these meant to do? >> those could dismember people. >> an attic of axes... >> i was in shock because it was floor to ceiling axes, knives... >> cannons, guns. >> ready for an off-the-wall inheritance? >> i heard that they thought he was the unabomber. >> one day my mother has a knock on the door, and it turns out to be two fbi agents. >> leave it to cleaver. >> how many really great knife makers can do what he did? >> probably about forty or fifty... >> that's it? >> ...in the world. >> in the world? >> in the world. >> last call, for $2,750. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ]
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[ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today i am in berkeley, california, home to the famous university and once the epicenter of the hippie movement of the 1960s, hardly the place i'd expect to find this strange inheritance, which attracted the attention of the fbi. >> my name is tom marek. when my brother robert died in 2015, he left me an arsenal of weapons -- swords, knives, guns, hatchets, you name it. >> hi, tom. i'm jamie colby. >> hi, jamie. i'm tom marek. >> it's so great to meet you, but i have to be honest. from what i've heard, your inheritance is a little disturbing. >> it's quite unique. >> well, let's take a look. oh, my god, this is not for real!
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i am totally creeped out right now. >> we have axes. we have knives. we have mallets. >> guns. >> there are a few guns in here. >> floor to ceiling, in every nook and niche -- big and small, sharp and blunt. intricate rows of knives, arrays of swords, hoards of hatchets. talk about "axes of evil"! >> you have to look at this more as an art display. i mean, my brother compiled this collection over his entire life. >> and he lived here? >> he lived here. >> in this room? >> his tv's in here, his bathroom is in here, and his bedroom is in here. >> where's his bed? i don't see a bed. >> up in the rafters. >> i know that our show is "strange inheritance," but this is truly weird. >> you had to know my brother. he was a little strange, but he was my brother.
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>> robert marek is born near san francisco in 1958. he's the second of four boys. tom is the youngest. >> we had a great childhood. i mean, we were four male children, one year apart, and we egged each other on. >> was there anything about your brother that stood out early on? >> he was a little bit of a clown. my brother was into pyrotechnics. we had weapons, bb guns, .22s. >> nice arsenal. >> it just was a fun house for a young man growing up. >> as a teen, robert is fascinated by stories of war, gore, and weaponry. he and bruce horton become friends in high school. >> he could tell you about conquerors going back 4,000 years and and give dates and names. he loved to read this stuff. >> after high school, robert joins his buddy bruce at uc berkeley. he double-majors in art and art history, with a focus on the craft of ancient weaponry. >> we kind of formed our own little clique.
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in the art department, pretty much everybody was weird. >> of course, there's weird, and then there's weird. while his classmates draw, paint and sculpt, robert fashions weapons from scratch. and so begins his collection. how on earth did your brother learn, not just to make a knife, but to make swords and hatchets? >> one, reading up on it, because he really enjoyed reading and the history of weaponry, and, second, from experimentation. he had bought knives and swords. he had seen how they were assembled, and he decided he can do it better. >> in his senior year at berkeley, robert channels his vision into edgy performance art. here he is blowing fire for the camera. >> we had a performance-art group called the architects of doom. bob was like the armorer for us. we basically beat the crap out of everything. [ all yelling ] >> after college robert does odd jobs -- masonry work, medical data entry, even serving
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subpoenas. all the while, he dedicates more and more of his time to collecting weapons and making them. how accurate was the historical part of what he did when he would make them? >> his knives had to be able to fool an expert. the composition, the iron had to be correct. the way the handle was mounted with rivets had to be correct. >> how many really great knife makers are there out there that can do what he did? >> probably about forty or fifty... >> that's it? >> ...in the world. >> in the world? >> in the world. >> i'm here at klockar's blacksmith shop in san francisco, meeting with renowned swordsmith francis boyd. he knew robert and shows me how much effort goes into a single knife. i'm no robert, but i think i can do this. >> okay, so grab it. >> got it, got it. >> you got it. now slide it under there. >> okay. >> and push it all the way up and then just hold it level.
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okay, hold it. go that way. okay, it's too cold. pull it out. >> it's really hard work, folks. after reheating our steel, francis teaches me how to hammer it into a blade. >> all along the edge. now flip it over. all right? now hammer along there. >> you're a very patient teacher. >> right, right, always move the work, always hammer in the same place. yes. >> yes, i got a yes! but i'm nowhere near done. it will take days of filing, polishing, and sharpening, so francis shows me what our crude weapon can eventually become. >> and there's the finished knife. if you turn this in the light, you'll see a pattern in the metal. where you see this thing along the edge, it's as hard as glass. >> this doesn't just happen in an hour. >> no.
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>> you saw how many knives he had collected and made over the years. how many hours did he spend? >> his whole life. you know, like a painter's got to paint, sculptor's got to sculpt, a knife maker's got to make knives. there's no way out. >> where did he work on them? >> at my mother's house. we had a lathe and drill presses and all this equipment my brother could use. >> it's not long before her son's hobby attracts unwelcome attention. >> a mother does not want the fbi knocking on her door asking about her son. >> the fbi? >> the fbi. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. the famous swiss army knife was not originally manufactured in switzerland. was it made in... the answer after the break. ♪ it's a highly contagious disease that can be really serious... especially for my precious new grandchild.
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(kisses baby) transform your life at casper.com try their mattress for 100 nights with free shipping and returns. casper. >> so, where was the swiss army knife originally manufactured? in 1891, the swiss army needed a folding knife that could also open cans and disassemble a rifle. the fish scaler, ballpoint pen, and led light came later. >> a boy fascinated with battles of yore grows up to be an expert craftsman of deadly weapons. some he makes from scratch, like this battle axe. others, he buys for their
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historical value, like these world war ii navy knives. in 1986, 28-year-old robert marek is still living at his mother's house near san francisco. he doesn't know it, but his eccentric hobby has landed him on the radar of federal law enforcement. what happened? >> my mother answered the door, and there were two fbi agents there. and they told her they wanted to interview my brother, and she asked why. and they explained to her that they had done a profile on the unabomber. >> at the time still unidentified, "unabomber" was the fbi's code name for a domestic terrorist who sent mail bombs to his victims. he killed 3 people and injured 23 others. >> the unabomber had an association with uc berkeley, apparently was thought to be intelligent, and also worked with wood. and my brother was an artist who went to uc berkeley. he worked with wood. >> did they bring him in for
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questioning? >> the following week, they came back to interview him, and my brother was never terribly open about how the interview went. he was a little embarrassed by this episode, but quickly they ruled him out as a suspect. >> the following year, in 1987, robert moves into this house in a quiet berkeley neighborhood, where he can live by himself, surrounded by all his weapons. >> did he have friends? >> well, you know, again, as an artist, you could call him a starving artist. a lot of his friends were on the edge, too, financially. they were just unique people, the type of people that make life interesting. >> his neighbors recall the first time robert has them over for dinner. what was your reaction? >> i was in shock because it was these beautiful wood walls, but floor to ceiling axes, knives. >> cannons. >> cannons. >> guns. >> oh, my. >> yeah, and so after we got in and the door closed, i kind of felt like we were never coming home. >> instead, robert serves them a delicious gourmet meal --
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hold the fava beans and nice chianti. do you think he got a kick out of people's reaction. was that part of it? >> you know, probably. he was proud of his collection, but he wanted to overwhelm you. that was his goal. >> for the next 20 years, robert does what makes him happy. he fashions weapons -- lots of them -- and collects them, too. he covers the walls of his house row by row, layer by layer. while his weapons collection grows over the years, he and his brother tom, a straitlaced financial planner, grow apart. >> i moved up to washington state, and as a brother we just separated. >> then, in july 2015, tom receives some distressing news. >> i got a phone call from a female friend of his, who told me he was in the hospital. and at the time they thought he had a ruptured appendix, which he did have. and later on they found out it was cancer. >> robert is diagnosed with stage-iv cancer throughout his
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body. how did he react to his diagnosis? >> he was a little scared. he wanted more time in life. the doctors thought he would have a couple more years. >> but just three months after that diagnosis, robert passes away. he's only 57. >> i don't believe he was ready to go. he had more work in life, more knives to make, more pieces to add to his collection. so, it was very sad. >> you had to be close to him to see the full person who he was. otherwise it's just a snapshot, and yeah, he's strange, but he's an incredibly unique person, and we won't see another one of him, maybe ever. >> robert names brother tom his principal heir, but he doesn't forget about his close friends. >> i thought he was very generous, to leave money to people he knew late in life, college friends, people he cared about. >> after his brother's death,
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tom visits robert's house for the first time in more than a decade. >> i was just shocked, and i was overwhelmed. i had seen photographs, but they only show one wall or one segment of the collection. >> i would imagine that if he spent this much time collecting, he probably kept very detailed records? >> i wish he had, but no, he did not. >> so, do you have any idea what you have here? >> i really don't. >> but this guy will take a "stab" at it. >> there could easily be a hidden jewel buried somewhere. >> next. >> here's another quiz question for you. what's the name of these weapons built by robert marek? are they... the answer when we return. potsch: you each drive a ford pickup, right?
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>> so, what's the name of these weapons built by robert marek? the answer is... they were used in medieval times to attack enemies in body armor. >> forged by expert hands, a massive collection of more than five thousand weapons. it's tom marek's strange inheritance, hanging off the walls and rafters of his big brother robert's berkeley, california, house. >> just visually it was overwhelming. it was my brother's life, but i don't think i could have been prepared until i walked through that door. >> he'd like to honor his brother's wishes. >> we had a heart-to-heart talk in the hospital. he would have preferred it to go to a museum. he would have preferred it to go to a single collector. >> but it's clear that's a tall order. >> and he gave me permission to auction off his collection. he realized that was the most
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likely outcome. it is sad to me. it's my brother. it's a collection of artwork that he created. >> tom's not sure how valuable the collection might be, or how to sell it, so he contacts michaan's auctions in alameda, california. they send in their sharpest mind -- world-renowned antique weapons expert greg martin. is this a once-in-a-lifetime collection? >> oh, i believe it is. you don't find collections like this, compiled by the maker and the collector rolled into one. >> greg tells me that's what makes this inheritance so unique. it's a combination -- some historical items robert purchased, but most he made himself. >> this axe, this is a handmade piece that he forged and pounded out. >> wow. >> this is really i think very interesting. these are all classic renditions of the bowie knife. >> so, did he research these in order to get them so accurate?
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>> he would have had to. but i was going to point out, one of the characteristics of a bowie knife, one of them, is a clip-point blade. >> what does that do? >> and clip-point blade, sharpened, like this one, if you're having a knife fight or something, it becomes handy when you pull back. >> so, both parts of this blade are blade. >> that's right. this is sharp and this is sharp. >> and it's not just blades of every size and shape. robert also dabbled in gunsmithing. >> now, this is a serious piece of metal... >> no kidding. >> ...that robert was working on and evidently he was making himself a very big-bore gun of some sort. >> that's really heavy. >> i understand robert was a real big guy, and, i mean, i can barely get it up. >> greg also pulls some of the historical items that robert acquired. >> this is a very interesting gun. >> it's beautiful. >> it looks like a small gun, but it is a big-bore gun.
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this carries a very big, powerful cartridge, and this is known as a howdah gun. >> what year do you think? >> 1880s, most likely. >> so, greg, what do you think this one's worth? >> between $1,500 and $2,500. >> do you have an idea in your mind of what this collection might bring? >> piece by piece, if you, i think it would probably bring a quarter of a million or more. >> a quarter of a million? >> yeah. >> really? that much? tom's ready to find out. so, it's off the walls for more than 5,000 weapons, headed to auction. >> $2,500, go $2,750. $2,750 is now the bid. go $3,000. >> that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail, or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com. parodontax, the toothpaste that helps prevent bleeding gums. if you spit blood when you brush or floss you may have gum problems and could be on the journey to much worse. help stop the journey
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inheritance -- a 5,000-piece weapon collection amassed by his brother robert -- is up for sale at michaan's auctions. >> they did a very good job setting up my brother's display. beautiful bowie knives i think people will appreciate and a number of rifles and pistols. >> we will begin today's auction. >> first up, three of robert's handmade weapons modeled after the medieval mace and horseman's hammer. >> we'll start the bidding on this lot at $100. $100 is bid. thank you. $100 is on the telephone. $190 is now the bid. go $200. $190, go $200. $200 is bid there. last call, $200. [ cash register dings ] >> on down the line, this early plains tomahawk -- one of robert's historical pieces -- goes for $250. next, a rare civil war collins hospital knife sells for $550. this japanese gunto sword cuts in at $700. >> lot number 23 is a rigby english double rifle.
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$1,000 is there. $1,000, now the bid goes. $1,100 i have. $1,200 is bid. $1,200 is now bid... >> now, this one could go somewhere. rigby is a sought-after manufacturer founded in ireland, and this rifle, circa 1900, is in excellent condition. >> $1,300 is there first. $1,400 is seated. $1,900 is here, $1,900. $2,000 will be next. $1,900 is the bid on the telephone. $2,000, new bidder. now the bid goes $2,250. $2,250 is bid. $2,750 is there. go $3,000. last call -- $2,750. [ cash register dings ] >> remember that big-bore english howdah pistol greg showed me? when it comes on the block, tom switches from seller to bidder. >> yeah, i got it. >> that's because he's his brother robert's principal -- but not sole -- heir. so, if he wants to keep any of the weapons, he'll have to buy them himself at auction. >> ...will get you there. $1,000, $1,100's your bid. $1,100. $1,200 is bid here. >> yeah.
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>> it's too rich for tom's blood, as the pistol squarely hits its appraisal target. >> last call. [ cash register dings ] >> tom will be more tenacious when bidding starts on some of robert's expertly crafted bowie knives that greg showed me back at the house. >> ...the bid there. is there any advance on $130? $140. $140 is up front. new bidder. $140 now the bid. no advance on $140. up front at $140. last call, $140. [ gavel bangs ] [ cash register dings ] >> i didn't get one of the pistols i wanted. it went for too much money, but i got a couple of beautiful bowie knives that my brother made. i'll bring them home, put them in my cabinet, put them on the wall. i'll remember my brother. >> in total, the sale of just 30 items nets 11,400 bucks. considering there are about 5,000 more still set to go to auction, it seems like that estimate of a quarter-million dollars is well within reach. >> i'm happy.
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i think this will do him honor. >> and for the heir in this strange inheritance story, honoring his brother has always been the point. the money, ultimately, is beside it. >> this was a lifelong passion. not many people can do what they want in life, and he did. i mean, he made it work, without much money, but he put together an amazing collection, and he was proud of what he did. >> i bet you're all wondering, did robert ever actually use any of those weapons in his collection? turns out he did. back in his college days, he took care of the landscaping around his mother's house. he mowed the grass, weeded the flower beds, and when it was time to trim the hedges, he did that, too. his tool of choice for that job? you guessed it, a sword like this one from his collection. i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance."
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thanks so much for watching. and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> muscle-bound heroes... >> my dad said, "if i'm gonna do conan, it's gonna be done my way." >> curvy vixens... >> when i look at the female characters that dad did, mom was okay with that? >> the da vinci of fantasy art. >> this entire visual genre traces back to this one artist. >> how much did it sell for? >> about $1.1 million. >> but when he's gone, a real battle takes shape. >> how bad did it get? >> i'm not close to my brother anymore. even today we don't talk. >> can the next generation save the family and its fortune? >> i think i was like their last hope. >> my grandfather deserves to live on, and what better place than comic-con? [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ]

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