Death of Austin ‘Taxidermy King’ leads to gigantic auction of stuffed lions, elephants, bears

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Taxidermy King will host a 3-day tribute auction this weekend in memory of owner John Brommel, who died in a February car crash. (KXAN Photo/Kelsey Thompson)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The death of Austin resident and “Taxidermy King” founder John Brommel has led to one of the largest auctions of taxidermy in the world.

The 3-day Taxidermy and Western Auction starts Thursday in Austin and is a tribute to Brommel’s 42 years serving the Austin community.

Brommel, 59, died in February in a single-vehicle crash when his truck hit a concrete pillar on U.S. Highway 183.

“After [his death], we decided we need to make this the biggest and the best as a tribute to him,” said Rita Fennewald, auction coordinator for Taxidermy King.

Brommel first opened The Corner Shoppe 42 years ago off Lamar Boulevard before relocating it to Burnet Road. For 28 years, Brommel ran taxidermy auctions that brought in prospective customers from across the country.

This weekend’s auction features a Wooly Mammoth reproduction, polar bears, lions, tigers and leopards, along with items from Brommel’s own estate. The catalog of inventory includes more than 1,500 items for sale — the largest Taxidermy King has ever produced, auctioneer Logan Thomas said.

“With John passing away in February, it’s obviously, as you can imagine, been tumultuous around here,” Thomas said. “But we wanted to go out with a bang and send the ‘Taxidermy King’ out on top.”

In Brommel’s obituary, his family said of his career:

John started his own business first selling ceiling fans at a flea market, then moving onto Black Velvet Elvis paintings, sun glasses, and novelty key chains from the back end of his pick-up. In 1986, he opened The Corner Shoppe which has become Austin’s oldest Trading Post. This unique gift shoppe has grown to be the largest selection of taxidermy in the United States. 

The 3-day event will include a celebration of life ceremony Friday evening, where guests and employees can share stories and memories of him.

Thomas said Brommel’s “Taxidermy King” nickname was a fitting moniker for the man who dedicated his life to the craft.

“It was interesting to see how he came across people, how he related to people,” he said. “And you see people from all walks of life: you see people that are just kind of country, rural type people, to very sophisticated attorneys and lawyers that have hunted Africa and all over the world. And to see John interact with those people from all walks of life was just fascinating, and something that we all hope we can replicate one day.”

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