The Second Most Famous Ice Pick on the Auction Block


The first most famous ice pick, arguably, is the one that Sharon Stone wielded in Basic Instinct, the 1992 movie that, aside from a bravura performance by a pre-Newman Wayne Knight, seems every bit as much a footnote to history as the Russian Revolution.

Which brings us to the ice pick of the moment. The AP, via the Wash Times, reports:

One of history's most infamous murder weapons, the mountaineer's ice pick police think was used to kill Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, has resurfaced just weeks before the 65th anniversary of his assassination.

Tests to authenticate the weapon have been delayed by a dispute between the current owner, who might sell it, and Trotsky's grandson, who wants it for his museum—evidence of the ongoing struggle between socialist ideals and capitalism.

The ice pick is in the hands of Ana Alicia Salas, whose father apparently removed it from an evidence room while serving as a secret police commander in the 1940s. She is considering selling the foot-long mountaineer's ice pick, but hasn't decided on a price.

Trotsky's grandson, who keeps the revolutionary flame alive by maintaining Trotsky's home in Mexico City as a museum, wants the ice pick for his display.

Whole story here.

Trotsky, who fled to Mexico City in 1937 and was killed in August, 1940, remains for many the last best hope of socialism with a human face who would have somehow created a kinder, gentler Soviet Union.

And the inspiration for the band Trotsky Icepick. And one of the more inscrutable lines in music history, from The Stranglers' "No More Heroes," which asked the musical question, "Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?" The answer: "He got an ice pick/That made his ears burn."

How much would you pay for a used ice pick?

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  1. I would pay anything to get that Trotsky/Frida love scene out of my head.. anything.

  2. I always pictured the Trotsky ice pick along the lines of the Sharon Stone ice pick, but a “mountaineer’s ice pick” sounds more like one of these.

  3. Woah – here it is. Nasty.

  4. Basic Instinct, the 1992 movie

    Has anyone else here watched that movie with the Camille Paglia commentary turned on? It’s a hoot and a half! She compares Sharon Stone’s character to a “pagan goddess communing with nature,” and talks about how she’s justified in her killings because of the patriarchy, although Ms. Paglia doesn’t condone the killings. I hope it’s humor. I suspect it’s not . . .

  5. I don’t see how Ana Alicia Salas can claim to the bhe “current owner” of the ice pick. As far as I can tell, she’s just the descendant of the guy who misappropriated it from the federales‘ evidence file. Maybe Mexican law is different from American law on this point, but it was my understanding that when the the cops take items (other than contraband) away for use as evidence, it remains the property of its rightful owner, and that it must be returned once all trials and appeals are over and it’s no longer needed as evidence. There may be statute of limitations problems with the ice pick, but sometimes such statutes are tolled if the person holding the items doesn’t let the rightful owner know he (or, in this case, she) is holding it.

  6. I think Leon got the point.

  7. That line isn’t inscrutable. An old wives tale has it that your ears burn when people are talking about you. The ice pick made it pretty clear that people were talking about Leon Trotsky.

    No more heroes anymore.
    No more heroes anymore.

  8. I would pay anything to get that Trotsky/Frida love scene out of my head.. anything.

    LOL! I assume you’re referring to the movie with Salma Hayek playing the unibrowed butterface? Never saw it, but talk about making a hot woman look bugly. I just looked up the credits and Geoffrey Rush played Trotsky, so I can imagine your emotional scars.

  9. I just looked up the credits and Geoffrey Rush played Trotsky, so I can imagine your emotional scars.

    Could be worse. The actor who played her husband, Diego Rivera, went on to play Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 — somehow I haven’t been able to seperate the two characters yet, and I keep imagining painting murals with those giant metal arms.

  10. (in reference to above: Alfred Molina is the actor’s name)

  11. “Never saw it, but talk about making a hot woman look bugly.”

    I’ll tell you how bad it was. There was a lesbo scene with Hayek and it did nothing for me. NOTHING!! Why did they torment me so?

    Some of the imagery was trippy, but I wasn’t high at the time. All in all, I rate the movie “Frida” as a total bummer.

  12. Geoffrey Rush can do no wrong in my book, but Frida sucks out loud. Titus, however, is a Julie Taymor joint every American should see and treasure.

    Megadittos on the praise for Newman. Without Newman’s reaction shots, the pussy scene in Basic Instinct would have fallen as flat as a Brazilian wax.

  13. I read through all these posts thinking; “Frida love. Does Mr. Nice Guy mean Freda Love of the Blake Babies?” Yep, I’m out of touch, old and in the way.

  14. Maybe someone around here can answer this: Frida Kahlo was one of those hanging around Trotsky’s circle, but was a doctrinaire Communist with pictures of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin above her bed. So, what was a Stalinist doing hanging around Trotsky? Weren’t Stalinists and Trotskyites deadly enemies in those days? Frida was questioned after the assassination. I wonder if she had anything to do with it?

    By the way, there’s an interesting bit about the assassination in Sidney Hook’s fine memoir Out of Step. It seems he knew a woman romanced by Ramon Mercader in order to get into Trotsky’s circle.

  15. Hey Joe,

    The reason I think the Stranglers’ line is inscrutable is because it’s not clear to me whether they are making fun of Trotsky (or the need for heroes [a.k.a “Shakespearoes”) or mourning him (ditto for the need for heroes). I prefer to think they meant the former, but who knows.

  16. Ever hear the one about the Soviet artist commissioned to paint a picture of “Lenin in Zurich”? When he unveiled it before the Politburo, they were horrified to see a picture of Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, in bed with Trotsky. “But where’s Lenin?” Brezhnev gasped. “He’s in Zurich,” the artist explained.

  17. It’s not a pick, it’s an ax. In any event, the one that got Leon supposedly had a cut-down handle to make it easier to hide.

  18. a “mountaineer’s ice pick”

    I thought this sounded like some kind of dirty Appalachian slang.

  19. It’s not a pick, it’s an ax. In any event, the one that got Leon supposedly had a cut-down handle to make it easier to hide.

    A radical violation of the law that states a mountaineer’s icepick cannot have a handle with a length shorter than ten inches, or an overall length of fifteen inches, I’m sure.

  20. Don’t get me wrong Tim, Geoffrey Rush is a tremendous actor, just not the guy I want to see banging Salma Hayek. That sounds awfully bisexual, but I stand by it dammit!

  21. Bleepless,

    I’ve often thought of finding a sticker with Trotsky’s name on it and putting it on my Black Diamond ice axe; maybe I could ink in some red marks that look like blood.

    Anyway, why people insist on calling an ice axe an ice pick I can’t say.

  22. Hadlyut,

    Think “pick” as in “pick and shovel.”

  23. A weapon used by communists on the order of a communist to murder a communist is a symbol of the struggle against capitalism?

  24. I have to confess that I always thought Trotsky was killed with an icepick, because that’s what everyone said.

    And now I find out it was an ice axe. Shit.

  25. joe,

    This is a pick:

    This is a ice axe:

    What Trotsky was killed with was an ice-axe.

    If you’d ever climbed up an ice wall you’d know the difference.

  26. Speaking of Wayne Knight, I recently learned that he’s a good friend of Kenneth Branagh’s (a friendship from Newman’s stage days and from before Dead Again, incidentally, for those who recall his work in that film). I suppose it’s not that surprising, given that Mr. Knight is a decent character actor, but it still strikes me as odd, somehow.

    I hope this isn’t too far afield from the subject of the thread, but I was careful to include Mr. Knight and a reference to a movie that emphasized scissors–very similar in many respects to your ice pick.

  27. Maybe if Trotsky had moved to Nashville his killers would’ve tried to use a guitar pick, which would’ve allowed him to live to a ripe old age.

  28. I would use an icepick in the kitchen or the fish camp to chip a block of ice.

    I would use ann ice axe if I was mountain climbing.

    I have had to change my whole mental image of the Trotsky assassination.

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