MIAMI – A former CIA operative and Cuban exile plans to auction what he says is a lock of Che Guevara's hair, snipped before the Argentinian revolutionary and friend of Fidel Castro was buried in 1967.
Gustavo Villoldo, 71, was involved in Guevara's capture in the jungles of Bolivia, according to unclassified U.S. records and other documents. He plans to auction the hair and other items kept in a scrapbook since the joint CIA-Bolivian army mission 40 years ago.
"It's time for me to put the past behind and pass these on to someone else," said Villoldo, also a veteran of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
The scrapbook also holds a map used to track down Guevara in Bolivia, photos of Guevara's body, intercepted messages between Guevara and his rebels and a set of Guevara's fingerprints taken before his burial.
It's hard to predict how much the collection will net at auction because there is nothing comparable on the market, said Tom Slater, director of the Americana department at Heritage Auctions of Dallas, which will put the collection on the block Oct. 25-26.
"We cannot recall ever having seen artifacts relating to Che's dramatic career and death appearing on the auction market, and we expect this offering to excite broad bidder interest," Slater said.
The Cuban government announced in 1995 that its anthropologists had uncovered Guevara's remains from Bolivia, and re-interred them in Cuba without doing DNA testing. Villoldo and other exiles and experts say the body is still in Bolivia.