Antlers that Hunter S Thompson stole from Ernest Hemingway finally returned by bemused wife after 50 years


A set of trophy elk antlers taken from the home of Ernest Hemingway by Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson when he went to Idaho to write about his literary hero has been returned more than half a century later.

"One of the stories that has often been told over the years is the story of Hunter S Thompson taking the antlers," said Jenny Emery Davidson, of Ketchum Community Library.

Pictured in 2003, Hunter S. Thompson and his wife, Anita, who returned the antlers (LOUISA DAVIDSON/AP/PA)

"These are two great literary figures who came together over the item of the antlers."

Davidson was there on August 5 when Thompson's widow, Anita Thompson, gave back the antlers she says her husband regretted taking.

In 1964, Hunter Thompson, then 27, came to Hemingway's house in Ketchum when he was still a conventional journalist.

Thompson was writing a story for the National Observer about why the globe-trotting Hemingway shot and killed himself at his mountain town home three years earlier at the age of 61.

Writer Ernest Hemingway kept the antlers at his Idaho home until they were stolen (AP/PA)

In the story, later collected in his book The Great Shark Hunt, he noted the problem of tourists taking chunks of earth from around Hemingway's grave as souvenirs. Thompson aimed higher.

Early in the piece, he writes about the large elk antlers over Hemingway's front door but never mentions taking them.

For decades, the antlers hung in a garage at Thompson's home near Aspen, Colorado.

Davidson said they made their way back to Idaho after historian Douglas Brinkley, who spoke at the library in May and was familiar with the antler story after interviewing the writer, contacted Anita Thompson. She called the library on August 1.

Thompson wrote Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, which propelled star Johnny Depp to fame (DAVE ALLOCCA/AP/PA)

"She gave a little background about the antlers and said she'd love to return them," Davidson said.

They have since been shipped to a Hemingway grandson in New York who wanted them, she said.

It is not clear if the antlers came from an elk killed by the author, who was a noted big game hunter, or if they were a gift.

Not long after the visit to Hemingway's house, Thompson developed the journalism style that took him into the dangerous world of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and would make him famous.

Like Hemingway, Thompson ended his own life by shooting himself, dying in 2005 at the age of 67 at his Colorado home.