The Forgotten Legend of Silicon Valley’s Flying Saucer Man

Alexander Weygers, a Renaissance man within the mildew of the tech business’s acknowledged very best, impressed an artwork vendor to turn out to be an acolyte.

An idyllic ease permeates California’s Carmel Valley. Rich folks have constructed ranch-style homes into the mountains, giving them views of the Pacific on one aspect and pine and cypress forests on the opposite. It’s neither too scorching nor too chilly, and the contemporary ocean air makes you are feeling calm inside. These situations, which give massive concepts room to develop, have attracted artists to the realm, in addition to retirees who need to meditate on the great life. However now and again, the light rhythm of this place will get disturbed. Somebody’s completely manicured existence goes in a turbulent, surprising path.

For some folks, it’s an actual property shock. For others, it’s an earthquake or—God is aware of—a wildfire. For Randy Hunter, a neighborhood artwork vendor, that second arrived in 2008. The monetary disaster had come to paradise. Artists and galleries accustomed to a steadyish stream of rich collectors fell on exhausting instances. Issues received dangerous sufficient that Larry Fischer, the proprietor of a sculpture foundry, determined to public sale off items he’d held on to for years to assist make ends meet. Forward of the public sale, he invited Hunter to return see if there was something he favored. He guided his good friend via the gritty warehouse towards a group of bronze sculptures he thought is perhaps of explicit curiosity.

He selected effectively. The primary sculpture Hunter noticed, Up With Life, was a foot tall and depicted an grownup’s face morphing vertically right into a hand cradling an toddler. Fischer defined that the sculpture, made by an unknown artist named Alexander Weygers after World Conflict II, represented humanity rising as much as discover hope within the darkest of instances. Its magnificence overwhelmed Hunter, leaving him giddy and a bit dazed. “I freaking began crying,” he later stated. As he surveyed the room and noticed one magnificent work after one other, Hunter knew he needed to have them. “I purchased the entire assortment of 30 Weygers statues.”

The sculptures got here with an unimaginable story. Weygers spent near half a century because the valley’s hidden da Vinci, crafting his residence through the years from reclaimed wooden and junkyard scrap steel, utilizing instruments he made on the premises. In separate workshops he produced sculptures, extremely stylized images, wooden carvings, and residential finishings. He additionally wrote books on blacksmithing and toolmaking and shared his abilities firsthand with children keen to camp on the property. He taught them to make their very own instruments, sculpt, and embrace his minimalist, recycling-centric philosophy. And amazingly, Weygers was a world-class engineer who within the late 1920s designed a flying saucer, a machine he known as the Discopter.

An early blueprint for the Discopter. COURTESY WEYGERS FOUNDATION

Fischer had recognized Weygers effectively earlier than the forgotten Renaissance man died in 1989, and his tales saved Hunter mesmerized for hours. “I used to be hooked,” stated Hunter, who’d lengthy pursued the artwork vendor’s dream of turning an obscure expertise with a compelling background into a serious determine amongst collectors. He’d purchase up as a lot of Weygers’s work as potential, he determined, then deliver the nice man’s legacy to the world—and make a fortune.

Over the following decade, nonetheless, Hunter’s relationship with Weygers grew to become way more advanced than he might have imagined standing in that warehouse. As he spent numerous hours researching the person, he started to see him as a logo of a purer time in Silicon Valley. Weygers invented issues as a result of one thing inside him demanded it. The artist-engineer ran from fame and riches, focusing as a substitute on exhausting work and ingenuity. The extra Hunter realized about Weygers, the extra he started to emulate and revere him, remodeling from an opportunistic artwork vendor to an acolyte. Someplace alongside the way in which, he determined to commit his life to telling Weygers’s story, even when it meant spending hundreds of thousands of {dollars}—and dropping himself.

Hunter first emailed me in late 2015. I’d simply printed a biography of Elon Musk and was receiving scores of messages from folks with free-energy machines, teleportation units, and Mars landers who both thought they had been the following Musk or needed me to cross their good concepts to the Tesla Inc. and SpaceX boss. At first look, Hunter’s e-mail appeared to suit squarely within the loopy pile. He promised to ship “the best nonfiction story by no means written” a few genius artist who’d invented the flying saucer virtually a century earlier. “I’ve been amassing his artwork, invention patents, images, memorabilia, and artifacts, and interviewing all his household, pals and college students,” he wrote.

I started looking out the online for details about Weygers. There wasn’t a lot, however there was sufficient to point out that Hunter won’t be a complete nutter. I responded politely however didn’t say sure to something; he took that as an invite to sure into my workplace in Palo Alto at some point, carrying luggage and instances.

Hunter was a tan, middle-aged man with a head of thick brown hair and darkish glasses. What made him stand out was a strong enthusiasm he appeared to be attempting to maintain in test for worry of scaring me off. Like all good salesman, he had a simple, convivial manner about him that made you need to hear what he needed to say.

He reached into one bag and pulled out a poster that he unrolled on my desk. It was an elaborate drawing of a automobile that seemed like a extra round model of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. The thought was for the disk-shaped craft to take off vertically on jets of air. In flight the air may very well be directed ahead or backward by a collection of louvers in slanted positions, with all of the steering achieved from a central cockpit.

There have been extra drawings of the Discopter—tons extra. The thought first got here to Weygers in 1927; from the beginning he’d envisioned the machine remodeling cities. Hunter’s subsequent exhibit, a drawing that depicted how San Francisco would possibly look within the faraway way forward for 1985, confirmed huge, transoceanic Discopters with rooms for tons of of passengers moored at docks alongside the bay. Smaller commuter fashions, docked by the tons of at workplace buildings, might detach carlike automobiles for getting round city. The drawings of the crafts’ interiors had been remarkably ornate, displaying every part from tennis courts and bunks right down to a slice of cheese on a tiny sandwich.

Hunter and I talked for a very long time. By this level, the unusual story had taken maintain of me, too. I needed to know extra about this Weygers fellow. The place was he from? Did he attempt to construct this factor? Why wasn’t he well-known? I additionally needed to know extra about Hunter, together with his motivations. He invited me to go to his gallery in Santa Cruz to take a look at the Weygers sculptures. As he left, he gave me some Discopter stickers, pamphlets about Weygers, and one of many posters, which he insisted I mail to Musk.

Weygers’s imaginative and prescient of San Francisco’s Central Terminal in 1985 full of Discopters. COURTESY WEYGERS FOUNDATION

Hunter’s gallery was tucked down a aspect road in Santa Cruz, in a single-story industrial constructing behind a wall of cafes and surf retailers. He stated he had a “contact” of obsessive-compulsive dysfunction. The gallery confirmed a contact and a half.

Dozens of Weygers’s sculptures stuffed the principle room: massive ones on giant black pedestals organized symmetrically within the middle, and smaller items ringing the perimeters. Glass shows held Weygers’s books, instruments, and scale-model Discopters, and images from his life dotted the partitions. On an extended desk at one finish of the room, dozens of folders meticulously cataloged info from Weygers’s life. There was a mathematical precision to the room, every part finely spaced and pristinely maintained, like a shrine. A small closet within the again had been become a UFO museum. There have been tons of of books (The Roswell IncidentFlying Saucers—Severe EnterpriseIs One other World Watching?) and outdated magazines with a few of the earliest mentions of alien craft (LifeReader’s Digest). Hunter spent hours on public sale and collectors’ web sites to snag as many copies as potential, like a UFO hoarder. The room was full of UFO toys, beer, ray weapons, DVDs, journals, and board video games. “Thank god for EBay,” he stated.

None of this actually stunned the individuals who knew Hunter effectively. Born in 1958, he’d grown up in close by Santa Clara again when Silicon Valley was nonetheless known as the Valley of Coronary heart’s Delight, after its bountiful fruit and nut orchards. As a child, he spent weekends woodworking in his dad’s storage or going to flea markets together with his mother. Even then, he collected issues—Sizzling Wheels, cash, stamps, automobile components, pins, weapons. “The final identify is Hunter, you already know,” he stated.


For the primary decade of his skilled life, Hunter labored at after which took over his father’s portray contracting enterprise. A damaged marriage despatched him to Hawaii, the place he started promoting artwork at a high-end gallery on Maui. “Within the first month, I used to be the No. 1 salesman,” he stated. “I received fortunate, hit a whale, and bought a pair hundred grand.” Quickly after, he seized on the works of Robert Wyland, who’d turn out to be well-known for his ocean-themed murals, and went on to promote hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of the artwork. “He was a hustler for certain,” Wyland says. “He all the time beloved the humanities and had a superb eye.” Hunter grew his hair and beard lengthy, loved a joint and a surf on the seaside within the evenings, and soaked all of it in. “I used to be promoting artwork, whereas a brand new batch of fairly vacationer ladies would arrive each Monday,” he stated. “I beloved it.”

When the web took off within the 1990s, Hunter began gobbling up domains tied to well-known artists and the humanities typically. This helped him construct markets for such sculptors as M.L. Snowden and Frank Eliscu, who produced the Heisman Trophy, and to promote to movie star purchasers together with George Foreman and Tanya Tucker. Hunter ultimately returned to the Bay Space, working his web sites and establishing the gallery in Santa Cruz. The artwork enterprise did effectively, however it by no means supplied him the fortune or fame of his goals. “That’s been the non-public problem for me,” he stated. “Can I take a man that no one has ever heard of and make him a nationwide story?”

Weygers was born in 1901 on the Indonesian island of Java and grew up on a sugar plantation owned by his Dutch mother and father. The household additionally ran a lodge on the tropical property, a tangle of mango timber and sugar cane fields. Alex and his six brothers and sisters had been home-schooled and ambled barefoot across the countryside wearing white tunics. The household was well-off, however there was a lot to do to maintain the farm and lodge working. Alex usually helped out within the blacksmith studio.

At 15, he traveled to Holland for training at a prep faculty after which school. He studied mechanical engineering and naval structure whereas persevering with to hone his blacksmith expertise. As a part of his coaching, Weygers took lengthy journeys at sea and solid exact bits of equipment whereas bobbing round on the tough waters. “If components wore out, there was nobody there to save lots of you,” he favored to say, based on an interview discovered within the huge trove of information dug up by Hunter. “You had been alone at sea. You had been anticipated to make and design their replacements with no matter was at hand.”

In 1926, Weygers moved together with his younger spouse, Jacoba Hutter, to Seattle, the place he pursued a profession as a marine engineer and ship architect and started inking drawings of the Discopter in his pocket book. By 1928, nonetheless, he’d fallen right into a deep despair, after Hutter and the couple’s son died throughout childbirth. “This was the beginning of a downward spiral,” Weygers wrote to his mother and father after Hutter’s funeral. “The whole lot is so terrible now.” He gave up shipbuilding and threw himself into sculpting, touring all through the U.S. and Europe to review below a number of masters of the interval.

The artist at work in his studio utilizing one among his handmade instruments to carve a log right into a topic impressed by his homeland of Java.COURTESY WEYGERS FOUNDATION

For a time, his work paid off. Shortly after he moved to Berkeley, Calif., in 1936, his items began appearing within the Oakland Museum of California and the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum. However when World Conflict II started, the market dried up and Weygers started to battle once more. At 40, and by then a U.S. citizen, he joined the U.S. Military and served two years in an intelligence unit, translating messages written in Malay, Dutch, Italian, and German. By the point he obtained a discharge on the finish of 1943, he was refocused on his outdated Discopter design, considering it might exchange the helicopter, which he thought-about “an unfinished piece of engineering.”

Weygers noticed the Discopter as a manner to assist U.S. troopers in addition to his household within the Dutch Indies, lots of whom had been put in focus camps by Japanese troops. He imagined Discopters flying quietly behind enemy traces to carry out rescue missions. After a brief, sad stint at Northrop Aviation in Los Angeles, the place he nervous that his colleagues would possibly steal the concept, Weygers moved to Carmel Valley together with his second spouse, Marian Gunnison. An Military buddy had bequeathed him a number of acres in his will, so, with gasoline rations nonetheless in impact, the couple motored 350 miles north in a 1928 Ford Mannequin A retooled by Weygers to run on steam from burning wooden and kerosene. They didn’t see one other driver the entire manner.

The legend of Alexander Weygers started to take form on this hilly, wooded 3-acre plot. For months, he and Marian slept in a tent he’d constructed and stayed alive on dandelion soup and gopher stew. They managed to coax some bees into hives constructed with scrap lumber and traded the honey on the town for different items. “We had been like Adam and Eve,” Marian later recalled. “We had no neighbors. It was so darkish at night time, and we’d simply lie there and watch taking pictures star after taking pictures star.”

Finally, Weygers set to work on a home that will turn out to be iconic. He foraged in dumps for logs, steel, bathtubs, sinks, and window frames to recycle. He started constructing a construction that seemed just like the cap of a mushroom—a hobbit’s lair within the Carmel Valley. It was round, with curved sides. Weygers described it as a “geodesic dome gone wild.” Each hinge, deal with, nut, and bolt he wanted was solid by hand. He determined to go away the knotty wooden exterior unfinished to match the panorama. A thick, flat roof coated the construction, and lichen took root alongside its edges. The top product blended into its environment, trying virtually as if the forest itself had produced it.

Close to the home, Weygers additionally constructed an artwork studio and a blacksmith store. Then he created a darkroom underground for growing images. The yard round these buildings quickly overflowed with scavenged objects. “It seemed like a junkyard,” says Rob Talbott, who grew up close by. “He had outdated automobiles, metal, wooden, and wheels. He’d save something, as a result of he’d reuse it.” To that time, Weygers was recognized to show auto springs into chisels, axles into hammers; a dentist’s chair grew to become a contraption that permit him increase and decrease hunks of marble with the faucet of his toe.

After settling in, Weygers turned again to the Discopter. The feds granted him Patent No. 2,377,835A in June 1945. He hoped to reward the patent to the U.S. navy after which attempt to commercialize the know-how. He assembled giant binders of details about the Discopter and mailed them off to branches of the navy, airplane makers, helicopter makers, and even carmakers to gauge curiosity. He obtained a handful of encouraging notes again, with engineers saying the automobile appeared sound however too superior for the time. (It could want lighter-weight supplies and extra environment friendly propulsion methods.) Many of the letters had been disappointing. “Our technical folks have reviewed this design and acknowledged they don’t have any curiosity,” one U.S. Air Pressure colonel wrote. “Your thoughtfulness in bringing this to the eye of the Air Pressure is appreciated.”

In 1947 a flurry of tales appeared within the standard press, discussing UFO sightings and carrying the flying saucer into mainstream consciousness. The Chicago Solar ran one in June of that 12 months with the headline “Supersonic Flying Saucers Sighted By Idaho Pilot”; Newsweek and Life printed items alongside these traces inside every week of one another that July. There appeared to be a flying saucer outbreak throughout the U.S.

Weygers’s residence in Carmel Valley, “a geodesic dome gone wild.”COURTESY WEYGERS FOUNDATION

Tales of mysterious flying objects date to medieval instances, and different inventors and artists had produced photos of disk-shaped crafts. Henri Coanda, a Romanian inventor, even constructed a flying saucer within the 1930s that seemed just like what we now consider because the traditional craft from outer area. Historians suspect that the designs of Coanda and Weygers, floating round within the public sphere, mixed with the postwar curiosity in sci-fi know-how to create an environment that gave rise to a sudden inflow of UFO sightings. Then, within the 1950s, NASA and different corporations and organizations truly tried to construct vertical takeoff and touchdown (VTOL) automobiles with saucerlike designs.

As all of the discuss of UFOs heated up and the navy received severe in regards to the craft, Weygers grew to become satisfied his designs had been stolen. The native press agreed with him. In April 1950, the San Francisco Chronicle ran one of many first tales in regards to the Discopter with the headline “Carmel Valley Artist Patented Flying Saucer 5 Years In the past: ‘Discopter’ Might Be What Individuals Have Seen Recently.” Somewhat matter-of-factly, the paper acknowledged, “The invention grew to become the prototype for all disk-shaped vertical take-off plane since constructed by the U.S. armed forces and personal business, each right here and overseas.” Weygers despatched a notice to the U.S. Navy, accusing it of infringing on his patent, and he despatched extra letters to magazines and newspapers, asking them to right articles about UFOs that failed to say his invention. (Hunter managed to seek out a lot of this correspondence over the course of his decade of digging and listed all of it in his recordsdata.)

In interviews, Weygers stated he knew the unique Discopter designs lacked a viable energy supply for propulsion, however he felt that advances in light-weight supplies and motors had arrived to make the machine possible. All he wanted was somebody to gamble on him with just a few million {dollars}, and he might flip the Discopter right into a actuality. However because the years ticked by, he turned away from his invention and downplayed it. “With the Discopter, I reached the restrict,” he instructed a reporter. “I invent one thing after which I am going on. I nonetheless assume somebody might construct it. Who actually is aware of?”

These feedback did not seize the anger inside Weygers. The letters Hunter obtained coping with the patent squabbles present a person who felt betrayed by the federal government he hoped to assist. Weygers had by no means been one to concentrate on materials possessions, however following the Discopter episode, he turned his abhorrence of cash and objects into the premise of a fierce antigovernment philosophy. For the remainder of his life, he tried to earn so little cash from his work that he by no means needed to pay taxes and feed into what he seen as a corrupt, soul-killing system.

Following the flurry of consideration within the early 1950s, Weygers went again to dwelling a secluded life. Most of his time was spent engaged on the home or sculpting. He’d sometimes drop a sculpture off at a good or exhibit so folks might have a look at them, however he by no means caught round to listen to their feedback or attempt to promote the work. “Individuals who come out right here and like a bit could purchase it or they might not,” he instructed one reporter. “The hell with it. My art work I do for the love of it.”

Within the mid-’70s, Weygers printed The Making of Instruments andThe Trendy Blacksmith. The books, which included step-by-step drawings and guides, grew to become shock hits. So did Weygers: Individuals from around the globe started displaying up on the home in Carmel Valley to study from this man who appeared to return from a distinct time. He started charging a small charge for a six-week course wherein college students would learn to scavenge for supplies, make instruments, and sculpt. He ran six fires at a time and had 14 anvils for folks to work on as he carried out demonstrations. The smells of burning coal, steel, and wooden chips flowed via his blacksmith store, which he saved darkish so folks might see the modifications within the shade of steel—yellow, blue, orange—as they labored it. Tall and thick, Weygers remained match into his 70s with highly effective, muscled forearms, and his persona matched this chiseled presence. He didn’t endure fools or folks unwilling to decide to the work.

Wherever from six to a dozen college students would present up per session, most of them of their 20s and 30s, and camp subsequent to Weygers’s home. Every day at lunch, the scholars would collect round a kidney-shaped eating room desk he’d long-established from redwood and placed on a swivel. Visitors would take their seats, and Weygers would slide the enormous desk in entrance of them with a few fingers, displaying off his engineering expertise. The meals got here from Marian’s backyard; the plates and utensils, from his forge. “It was a time when know-how appeared to be accelerating,” says Joseph Stevens, a pupil who trekked to the property from Canada thrice within the 1970s. “However if you had been at their home, time actually stood nonetheless. It might have been any time, any century even.”

Together with the blacksmithing and sculptures, Weygers would showcase his wooden engravings, a few of which took months, and a way he known as artography, wherein he’d take images of an object via a droplet of water positioned on the lens, then hint parts of the photographs in pencil to sharpen particulars. As with the books, the images introduced him some consideration and cash, however he nonetheless managed to remain largely out of the general public eye. “He needed to be left alone to dwell his personal life,” says Talbott, his former neighbor. “The neighbors would see this outdated truck come down the street with all of these things in it every now and then, and that’s it. Frankly, most of them seemed down at him.”

Weygers taught the courses till he was 83, at which level imaginative and prescient and coronary heart issues received the very best of him. “He had macular degeneration and couldn’t concentrate on issues,” says André Balyon, a neighborhood artist and Weygers’s neighbor. “None of his college students got here by anymore. It was all very irritating to him.” Weygers died in 1989 at 87. He’d hoped the loopy home and studio can be become a basis with sculptors in residence keen to go away their greatest piece behind once they moved on. Marian, although, had uninterested in roughing it, and parceled the land out into tons she bought. The house was ultimately torn down. The sale of the property netted her about $400,000, and she or he lived within the space till 2008, when she died at age 98.

In Might 2016, Hunter found that a few of the property the place Weygers had lived had come up on the market. He and his companion, Cathy Thomas, paid $1.6 million for 1.6 acres of land and a four-bedroom craftsman residence. The grounds nonetheless seemed simply as they’d in Weygers’s heyday, stuffed with timber, shrubs, and hills, and the home was tucked again from the street on the finish of an extended, winding driveway. Remnants of Weygers’s workshops and home may very well be discovered within the floor. “We’re so fortunate to have discovered the home,” Hunter stated. “It’s a miracle.”

Over the course of the following 18 months, Hunter and I exchanged many notes about Weygers. Or somewhat, he despatched me a continuing stream of updates about issues he’d found and his bold plans for the property. He was notably excited by Silicon Valley’s current curiosity in flying automobiles, with Google co-founder Larry Web page and a number of other startups funding efforts to develop VTOL automobiles. Lastly, the know-how wanted to energy one thing just like the Discopter had arrived. The world had caught as much as Weygers’s genius.

Hunter’s fascination with Weygers was each inspiring and irritating. As a Silicon Valley historical past buff, I reveled within the story of this lone engineer who’d rejected the realm’s cash and hype and determined to make a go of it with simply his personal two arms. Weygers embodied so most of the issues Silicon Valley techies rejoice at this time however fail to dwell as much as: He was a conservationist, a maker, and a farm-to-table foodie with none of the self-congratulatory pomp or circumstance that now surrounds these concepts. He was genuine in ways in which the Valley isn’t a lot anymore.

The frustration stemmed from Hunter’s battle to make Weygers well-known. Hunter was an awesome salesman, however nobody needed to take the time to listen to a sophisticated story about an unconventional life. Weygers couldn’t be packaged on Instagram in a splashy swimsuit or force-fed to folks on Fb. Nonetheless, Hunter saved at it. If something, his notes about Weygers began to really feel extra pressing, particularly in mid-2017.

Hindsight has made the rationale for this clear. Unbeknown to me, Hunter, then 58, had been battling most cancers for years, and the illness had taken a flip for the more serious because it unfold all through his physique.

In July 2017, I made the 90-mile drive to see what Hunter had achieved with Weygers’s outdated place. The outcomes had been wonderful.

Hunter had constructed what amounted to a Weygers museum. As you walked down a flight of stairs to the basement, you handed a collection of big Discopter images. Within the basement, Hunter had arrange a few couches within the middle of the room and surrounded them with Weygers’s sculptures. His assortment of Weygers images had been artfully organized on the wall, displaying a timeline of his life. Instruments Hunter had obtained from Weygers’s college students had been encased behind glass like effective artwork items. “It’s virtually turn out to be like a race in my thoughts, like another person will discover these things earlier than I get there,” he stated.

Off to the left of this foremost room, Hunter had constructed a small movie show with a velvet rope he’d pull to the aspect so you could possibly enter. Should you had 20 minutes to spare, he’d present you the Weygers documentary he had commissioned and allow you to flip via the screenplay proposal he’d ginned up for a Hollywood blockbuster in regards to the man. A pair of Weygers’s bigger sculptures flanked the film display, and the lights overhead had been customized UFO-shaped fixtures. In the back of the room was a desk that contained info on what he known as the Weygers Program: an inventory of the sculptures, Discopter prints, and different artwork Hunter hoped to promote. The theater’s rest room had extra UFO memorabilia and artography images; the steel stand holding up the sink had Weygers’s initials, AGW, solid into it.

To the suitable of the principle room, Hunter had re-created his studio UFO assortment, solely this time it was greater, grander, and full of extra objects. He’d positioned a miniature model of the Discopter that Weygers made and enclosed it below glass. Open any drawer on this room, or the lounge, or the movie show, and also you’d discover reams of papers about Weygers’s life, together with letters, newspaper clippings, patent filings, correspondence with legal professionals, Freedom of Data Act requests, and CIA file requests. Over the previous decade, Hunter had tracked down lots of Weygers’s college students and members of the family and interviewed all of them. He’d additionally managed to find that Weygers had been protecting a secret: He had an illegitimate son born in 1935, whom Hunter discovered and befriended. “He seems precisely like his dad,” Hunter stated. “He’s solely ever seen a few images of Alex, and I’ve tons of that I’m going to share with him.”


As we toured the property, Hunter took me to the yard, the place he’d began building on a 20-foot-wide, UFO-shaped hearth pit. There have been small bulldozers smoothing the land on the left fringe of the property. That is the place Weygers’s blacksmith store had been, and Hunter was going to resurrect it. “I’m going to construct a world-class sculpture backyard, too,” he stated. “And re-create the studio and put in a present store.” His grand plan at this level was to make a Weygers museum that individuals might go to. “I’m the biggest collector of this man’s work, and I really feel responsible simply hoarding it,” he stated. He hoped the rich residents and vacationers in Carmel Valley would cease by, get hooked, and maybe purchase some sculptures. For many who couldn’t get to the property, he’d created a touring roadshow with big Discopter and sculpture shows that may very well be fitted alongside the partitions of a trailer and delivered to science and artwork gala’s.

All instructed, Hunter figured he’d spent $2.eight million on his Weygers obsession. Nearly all of that, although, got here from his companion, Thomas, a finance supervisor for rich households. She had fretted in regards to the extent of Hunter’s obsession however let him do his factor whereas attempting to place some monetary order across the Weygers behavior. “Thank God, I’ve Cathy. In any other case, I’d be broke,” Hunter stated. He was conscious folks thought he may need gone a bit mad, however he remained satisfied that the world simply wanted to listen to in regards to the art work and the Discopter, then every part would handle itself.

Hunter and I had solely frolicked collectively on and off over the course of two years, however we all the time received alongside effectively and loved one another’s firm. Since our first assembly in my workplace, I’d seen his pursuit of Weygers shift from a moneymaking enterprise to one thing totally different. At that time, he appeared to genuinely care most in regards to the world understanding who this Weygers man was. As his most cancers worsened, Hunter figured I used to be his greatest wager at making this occur, and he continued to maintain the seriousness of his sickness a secret from me as a result of he didn’t need me to surrender on the story.

Nearly precisely a 12 months in the past, Thomas despatched me a notice, saying it was essential that I get to the home. Hunter had battled totally different types of most cancers—lung, backbone, and liver—and it now appeared he didn’t have lengthy to dwell.

I returned to Carmel Valley, and Hunter greeted me outdoors of his Weygers rooms. In only a few weeks, he’d misplaced a number of weight. His garments hung off his physique besides round his stomach, which was distended and stuffed with air from the remedies and the sickness. His liver had given out, and he’d turned yellow. His massive, once-energetic eyes had been sallow and haunting. However he didn’t dwell on any of that, as a result of he’d positioned the outdated steam-powered automobile Weygers had as soon as pushed from Los Angeles to the valley. “F—, it’s wonderful,” he stated. “The automobile has come to me.”

We spent a few days collectively speaking about Weygers for hours upon hours. I’d sit subsequent to Hunter on a sofa and he’d start a narrative, get drowsy from painkillers, nod off for 10 minutes or so, then rouse himself and choose proper again up the place he’d left off. The tales had been nonetheless all there, solely muddled. Hunter struggled to seek out dates and the suitable sequences of occasions, his once-encyclopedic information of Weygers decreased to an summary feeling of what was true. He’d cling on to me as we walked across the property and saved speaking about his plans. Now he needed to create a nonprofit devoted to Weygers that will fund science scholarships for youths. At one level, his sneakers got here untied, so I bent down to repair them, and there they had been: an $800 pair of suede Gucci chukka boots with rainbow-colored UFOs on the aspect. “The worth certain isn’t the Weygers manner,” Hunter stated. “However I needed to have them.”

Late on our final night time collectively, Hunter, full of opiates, turned spacey and reflective. “I’ve had a pair goals about assembly Alex,” he stated. “One time was a extremely euphoric expertise. I used to be laying in mattress, nearly falling asleep, and every part received sort of glowy, and I felt this presence. I received this flash of white gentle, and I used to be overtaken by this sense. I simply thought for certain it was Weygers. I accepted it and figured it was the spirit of Weygers telling me I’m doing the suitable factor, that he was grateful and that I ought to proceed my mission.” Hunter died just a few days later.

Hunter needed an enormous occasion and had left Thomas detailed directions on precisely what to do. His funeral was held in a San Jose church with a round form, just like the Discopter. A few members of Weygers’s household turned up, as did a pair hundred extra who knew Hunter. After his funeral, all of us gravitated to a big ballroom close by, the place a band took the stage as folks ate dinner. I sat with Thomas and Hunter’s mom, sister, brother, and pals. Nearly everybody received up and danced. Thomas stated she’d determined it was her flip to see the mission via and discover some cash to assist the Weygers Basis. “It’s what Randy needed,” she stated.


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