Three years before he was beaten to death in prison, notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger insisted he was “not guilty” and complained of feeling “vulnerable” in a jailhouse letter — part of a cache of photos and writings now on the auction block.
“Starting to get settled down after my stay in isolation,” Bulger wrote in the letter, which he mailed in July, 2015 from Coleman Penitentiary in central Florida.
“Getting too old for that, 86 in Sept, and not guilty — but my word has no power over the reports of officer [sic],” Bulger wrote in the letter, which was sent to a former fellow inmate who’d become his pen pal after they served federal time together in Tuscon, Arizona.
“Don’t even like to write about it makes me realize how vulnerable one is if someone takes a personal dislike to you,” he wrote — apparently complaining about being framed for whatever put him in solitary.
“A fight not of my choosing — hard to believe I have gone this far,” he wrote. “Kind of a mystery to me — Why? Revenge?”
The letter, written in the octogenarian’s spidery penmanship, is part of a trove of dozens of letters and photographs being sold via Lelands Auctions by the former fellow inmate, self-taught Native American artist Clement “Chip Janis.
The auction ends on April 2, and can be accessed online.
“Whitey was a fan of this guy Chip’s artwork, and over the years sent him Christmas cards, postcards, old photographs,” Jordan Gilroy, Lelands’ director of acquisitions, told The Post of the trove of memorabilia on Thursday.
The Matawan, NJ-based auction house is calling the Janis cache the “Chip and Whitey Collection.
It includes what’s being called the last known photographs of Bulger. The eight snaps show him standing beside Janis and holding one of the artist’s paintings in July of 2014.
In one of the accompanying letters, Bulger refers to Native Americans as “Native Warriors.”
“The lot also includes the actual pieces of artwork that Whitey is holding in the photographs,” said Gilroy.
“So there may be Whitey’s DNA on those items.”
Bulger’s fear of being victimized in prison “revenge” plots, as described in the 2015 letter, is hardly farfetched.
Captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the lam, Bulger, who’d been a prolific FBI informant, was stabbed in the head within a month of being thrown in jail.
He was murdered in 2018 within a month of his transfer to the federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, by yet-identified inmates who swung at his head with a sock holding a padlock.