Fernand Meyssonnier faced death everyday throughout his career as one of France’s last executioners. But it turns out that his profession was also a hobby.
Torture objects dating back over 300 years, from a hand-crusher to inquisition torture chairs, are included in the sale, which takes place next Tuesday in Paris. Death-related objects such as a bathtub that was used to hold heads are also up for purchase.
Meysonnier worked as an executioner in French-ruled Algeria in the late 1950s and early 1960s and collected several hundred torture devices and items related to the death penalty. He died in 2008.
Rights groups have attacked the auction, held by auctioneers Cornette de Saint-Cyr, as "shocking and immoral".
Amnesty International France, the Human Rights League and the Movement Against Racism (MRAP) have condemned the auction and say they will demonstrate against it.
The protesters say the government should not allow objects of torture to be sold privately.
"If they have historical value, they should be in a museum, but we cannot let such objects, torture devices, be scattered around," MRAP official Henri Pouillot told AFP.
Meysonnier carried out 198 executions in Algeria between 1957 and the country’s independence in 1962, according to AFP. Organisers of the auction however insist none of the objects date back to Meysonnier’s activities in Algeria.