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BAG OF TOYS by David France

BAG OF TOYS

Sex, Scandal, and the Death Mask Murder

By David France

Pub Date: June 12th, 1992
ISBN: 0-446-51606-6

 A plunge into the midnight world of gay sadomasochism and murder-for-kicks that was the playground of Manhattan art dealer Andrew Crispo and his 22-year-old protegÇ Bernard LeGeros. The violence-ridden narrative first appeared in abbreviated form in Vanity Fair. Orphan/hustler/con man Crispo moved to N.Y.C. in 1964, just when the art world was discovering the publicity value of glitz. He fell almost by accident into the gallery scene, and with his combination of good looks, slick wardrobe, and glib tongue, he soon was highly successful, opening his own gallery in 1972. Depravity and drugs--especially cocaine--in increasing doses followed. In 1984, Crispo hired LeGeros, not so much for his art expertise as for his willingness to engage in the whippings and degradations that Crispo imposed on gay partners. When, one day, Crispo picked up Norwegian fashion student Eigil Dag Vesti and suggested that the young man be ``snuffed,'' LeGeros went along with the plan, putting two bullets into Vesti after an evening of sadomasochism. Eventually implicated--the murder took place a few yards from LeGeros's vacation home in New York's Rockland County--LeGeros confessed. Crispo, however, remains unindicted for the crime. Here, France keeps the action moving briskly, though the narrative is plagued with weaknesses both psychological (e.g., the suggestion that LeGeros's mindless enslavement to Crispo may have resulted from the younger man's mother having given away his dog years before) and stylistic (``Everywhere there was the particulate remains of urban decay suspended at shirt level, nose level, pore level, pouncing at will''). And, despite an expected air of disapproval, the text also holds a subtle sense of prurience. Bruisingly detailed: not for the fainthearted.