From the sound of it, Butler & Sons Books in Rosenberg, which is about 20 miles west of Houston, is just your average rare-book store, selling for a couple thou first editions of All the King's Men, Tarzan of the Apes and other treasured tomes. Bill Butler bills his joint as "An Intellectual's Ice House," and promises it's worth the drive -- more than 80,000 books, for them's so interested.
And business must be exceptionally good: Yesterday, at an auction at Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, Butler forked over $119,500 for the collection of Che Guevara goodies that once belonged to former CIA agent Gustavo Villoldo. Among the items Butler picked up: "fingerprints, maps, letters, newspaper clippings, and dozens of death photographs of Che and his fellow guerrillas" -- and, yes, that infamous 3-inch lock of Guevara's hair, only slightly better than a Che T-shirt or shooter glass. Now Che's a Texas tourist attraction: Butler says he'll display the hair in his store, and too bad it's not a barbershop.
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A little digging reveals Butler to be quite the collector. In December, he doled out nearly half a million at a Christie's auction: Butler spent $192,000 for Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and $168,000 for Jimi Hendrix's 1968 Fender Stratocaster, among other Hendrix-related items. Also looks like he bought Rosenberg's legendary Cole Theatre, built in 1919, last year. So, by all means, send him an invite to your next garage sale. --Robert Wilonsky