Another Black Dahlia Portrait? Harvard's Fogg Museum Displays Two Man Ray Artworks-George Hodel portrait and Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short Lookalike


November 5, 2017
Los Angeles, California

Two original Man Ray artworks are currently on display at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum.

The first is a photograph taken by Man Ray of his good friend Dr. Hodel upon his return from China in September, 1946. Dr. Hodel is seen wearing his UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency) topcoat and while on billet to Hangkow, China had the honorary rank of “Lt. General.”

The second is a lithograph portrait of an unknown woman, drawn by Man Ray in 1970. The woman has a dark red Dahlia* flower in her hair and bears a striking resemblance to Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short. As I have previously established Elizabeth Short was acquainted with and dated George Hodel and most probably knew and posed for Hodel’s Hollywood resident and artist/friend ManRay in 1943 for his L’Equivoque painting. Compare Man Ray’s portrait to the known photograph of Elizabeth Short from 1946 and decide for yourself?  (I also find it curious that Man Ray has posed the woman with her hands completely covering her mouth. Could this be a subtle reference, as the surrealists were prone to do in their artwork,  to hide the fact that Elizabeth Short’s mouth was savagely lacerated from ear to ear, therefore unshowable?) Man Ray was 80 years old in 1970 and would live another six years. I see it as a “he knew” public confession. Running out of time and wanted to make one more statement on a secret he and just a handful of fellow surrealist KNEW.

*”Black Dahlia flower does not exist. The closest to it is the dark red/maroon dahlia as shown above in the Man Ray portrait.

See links for complete background/details on Equivoque and later 1969 connection to Man Ray’s artwork Minotaure/Unsaleable.

George Hodel Man Ray Photo at Harvard’s Fogg Museum 2007 FAQ

The Timing

1943- Elizabeth Short poses for Man Ray’s L’Equivoque
1947- George Hodel surgically bisects Elizabeth Short’s body and poses it in homage to Man Ray’s Minotaur photograph
1961-  William Copley draws “It is Midnight Dr. ____ showing naked female and surgical tools in homage to George Hodel.
1969-  Man Ray draws Le Invendables (Minotaure showing naked female posed as Minotaur in homage to George Hodel.
1969-  Marcel Duchamp’s secret 20-year art project showing naked female posed in a vacant lot in homage of George Hodel first shown to the public at the Philadelphia Art Museum.


Dr. George Hill Hodel homage to Man Ray’s Minotaure (1934 and Lover’s Lips (1934-5)
1947 Black Dahlia Crime Scene



William Copley homage to Dr.  Hodel    1961


 Man Ray homage to  Dr. Hodel



Duchamp homage to Dr. Hodel











  1. Teresa M on November 5, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I find the 1970 Lithograph unsettling , his last memory of her? anyone else feel the same way?

    • Steve Hodel on November 5, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      Teresa M: Yes. He was 80 years old and would live another six years. I see it as a “he knew” public confession. Running out of time and wanted to make one more statement.

      • Vivian A. Dean on May 27, 2020 at 11:50 pm

        Late to the party, I’m astonished at the links between the Lipstick Killer, the Zodiac, the Black Dahlia, and Philippine murders. Years ago I saw the documentary about the suspicion that George Hodel committed the Black Dahlia murder but only last week about the link to the other murders. Now the question in my mind is whether or not Man Ray or other members of the secret Zodiac Group was a party to or knew about George Hodels commission of the murders. Any ideas?

        • Steve Hodel on May 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

          Vivian D:

          Cannot say if his fellow surrealists were “party to” the crime, but they absolutely were aware of the fact that GHH committed the crime and each paid homage to his “surrealist masterpiece” in separate artworks in later years. Recommend you read my follow up books which detail and add a massive amount of new linkage. Best Regards, Steve

  2. Dan Lackey on March 5, 2018 at 11:08 am


    No doubt in my mind that the so called unk woman is ES. Man Ray paying homage to GHH.
    This coupled with the photo of Man Ray holding the Lovers painting with the all-knowing wink of the
    eye. So much of the paying homage back & forth and the homage from Copley & Duchamp, makes
    it all the more obvious that GHH was the BDA.

    Best Regards,

  3. Eric Legay on April 13, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I do not know if you remember,
    I sent you this reproduction of a Man Ray painting:
    Celeste is east of the west. Céleste est à l’Est de l’Ouest (in french)

    Best regards

  4. Steve Hodel on April 13, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Eric: Merci. Seem to have lost the original Email on it? Are you referring to the 1969 Les Invendables Man Ray or the 1970 portrait of an Uknown Woman? steve

  5. Mark Bujdos on July 4, 2018 at 12:23 am

    My Interpretation of William Copley’s Birth of Venus (1953), Using a Thin Thread of logic and a lot of imagination, or, are you immune to visual puns? (don’t laugh)
    Dear Steve,
    I’m almost through with the book Exquisite Corpse, which owes its existence, I think it’s fair to say, to your first book. Having come across the intriguing idea in BDA 2, that Copley’s Il’est minuit…spells out the name Hodel, I couldn’t help but pause, coming to the reproduction of Copley’s the Birth of Venus on page 135 of the book. Now if Il est minuit…does spell a name, I admit some will think that far-fetched, but I for one have no trouble buying in to it. The foundation of my logic is this—if the surgical instruments of the 1961 painting spell, then the garden tools of the left half of the 1953 painting must spell. The authors of the book do not use the Birth of Venus to further their thesis, but use it only to introduce Copley’s style and point out that it alludes to Man Ray’s work Erotique voile. So what do the tools spell? I posit they spell “Jumelle” “the Twin” (though imagining the m is a little bit of a stretch), the women’s body constituting the twin L and the final (silent) e taken up in the machine in the right half. The book reproduces Man Ray’s 1939 painting “La jumelle” on page 53 The longer I stare at the Birth of Venus, the more fascinated I am with it. The repetition of visual motifs is quite amazing. The right and left halves of the painting mirror each other, also to an amazing degree. Almost everything has its double. The development of the motifs is as rigorous as a painting like Grant Wood’s American Gothic. In fact…I would go so far as to say that it refers to Wood’s painting and parodies it. It puns on that painting quite consistently, the pitch fork being but one example. Also the area of the woman spells “Wood” twice, whether you go up from the w of her arms and head, or down. But why? Why not say that Copley is trying to tell the story of another “American Gothic”. Everything in this painting engenders its double, it seems. Now let’s move on to the spectre of Elizabeth Short…and the name Hodel. I posit that Copley’s Birth of Venus also spells “Hodel” in the right half, and TWICE. If the authors tell us that the pose of the nude copy the ES’s death pose (quite parodically), then I missed it.
    Having gone this far I might as well go on—the Birth of Venus seems to depict the façade of the Sowden House. I went out to view the house just last week and was sufficiently creeped out. The Vs in the middle of the façade looked like they would eat up anyone brave enough to enter. Likewise the Birth of Venus is divided perfectly in half with an inverted V at the top and two Vs below (if you factor in the pubic hair). At any rate some kind of entrance way is more than implied. The middle horizontal line of the wall dissects the female figure just like the glass plate of La jumelle. The dissected figure as dissecting figure.
    The painting does indeed reference Erotique voile. But I will mention explicitly what the book mention implicitly—it also references and is the double of Man Ray’s photograph, Portrait of Dorothy Hodel (1944) on page 70. In fact, it is important to add, that an interpretation of the photo buttresses the theory of Il eest minuit… spelling Hodel. It represents the letter H taken up in the easel, and the same type of H (with an added vertical line) as in Il est minuit… And also the left hand of the reclining nude mimics the left hand of Dorothy.
    If Copley was not familiar with the 1944 Portrait of Dorothy Hodel in 1953 and 61, then my interpretation is lessened to a certain degree—so an important question for me is: did Copley have access to the photo?
    Mark Bujdos

    • Luigi Warren on July 6, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      If you mentally bisect Venus at the waist, it becomes only too clear where the double L and the E that should be at the end of JUMELLE reside. I suspect the gray, featureless tool is a “blank” to make it less obvious (or for plausible deniability). Takes “Alphabet for Adults” to the next level. -LW

    • Jenny on March 12, 2021 at 2:42 pm

      I totally agree w this interpretation! Also, this guy’s “art” totally sucks!

      • Anonymous on December 13, 2021 at 5:29 am

        Fawking amen. Sadomasochism is not art

  6. Luigi Warren on July 4, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Mark, I think you are correct. As in the Zodiac puzzles such as the Halloween Card, the clues are amazingly subtle and highly distributed, but they add up. I think maybe the last E of “Jumelle” is given by the woman’s head and upstretched arms. I can see “HODEL” spelled out in the machine operated by the aristocratic sadist quite easily. I also get the subtle reference to the Sowden House facade. The ironic melding of “The Birth of Venus” and “American Gothic” to portray the Black Dahlia murder is perfect. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on July 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Mark B:

      As to your question of whether Copley has seen the photograph of Dorothy Hodel in ’44 I am confident he had. I expect Copley attended numerous parties with Man Ray at Sowden/Franklin House after GHH returned from China in late ’46 up until the incest arrest in Oct 1949. I expect that Man Ray, Copley and Teske “hung out” a lot during those three years. Recall Edmund Teske’s words:

      “It’s an evil place! (Hodel residence) Artists, philosophers, accountants and politicians we all played and paid there. Women were tortured for sport there. Murders happend there. It’s an EVIL place.”

      And, yes, as we know the surrealists were all about puns and word games included in their art. It was their way of having a secret language that only the initiated could read. What we would today call “inside jokes.”

      I think you may well be correct in your analysis. My main problem is that once I start interpreting using the eyes of a surrealist (an “insider”) it opens up a can of worms. I can see just about anything I want. The art becomes totally subjective, which is 180′ away from looking at as a trained objective investigator.

      But, once I decided to try and use my father’s mind, to think like him, then things began to fall in place.

      Thanks for the excellent observations Steve

      • Luigi Warren on July 28, 2018 at 1:38 pm

        Steve and Mark B: In addition to the references to Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” Man Ray’s “Erotique Voile,” “Jumelle” and “Portrait of Dorothy Hodel,” and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” another obvious allusion here is to the Venus de Milo (famously, all the more iconic for being given to us in dismembered form). -LW

        • Luigi Warren on July 29, 2018 at 1:59 pm

          One more clue that the tools refer to LA JUMELLE (THE TWIN) — and therefore to a bisected woman — can be seen by comparing the composition of Copley’s painting to Botticelli’s original. The suggestive lettering occupies the space taken by the conjoined figures of Zephyr and Aura in Botticelli’s work — another “pair,” picking up Man Ray’s theme of symmetry and quasi-symmetry. -LW

  7. Kenneth Green on July 30, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    This is the first time I saw the Paris 1970 pic. I’m kind of stunned. This looks like Elizabeth more than anything I’ve seen and solidifies your theory for me. I’m convinced GHH committed the murder and Man Ray knew or suspected. But I came to the website to ask you if you saw the trailer to your niece Fauna’s miniseries I Am The Night. I saw it on the IMDB website.

  8. Kenneth Green on July 30, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    This is the first time I saw the Paris 1970 pic. I’m kind of stunned. This looks like Elizabeth more than anything I’ve seen and solidifies your theory for me. I’m convinced GHH committed the murder and Man Ray knew or suspected. But I came to the website to ask you if you saw the trailer to your niece Fauna’s miniseries I Am The Night. I saw it on the IMDB website.

  9. Steve Hodel on July 30, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Kenneth G: Yes, I’ve seen the trailer for the miniseries. Best, Steve

  10. Dia on March 9, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks the face of L’Equivoque looks like the front of the. Franklin house?

    • Steve Hodel on March 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Dia: Unlikely related as the painting was drawn two years before my father bought and moved into the Franklin Sowden House. But, the cross hatch is clearly identical in every respect to the crosshatch carved into the victim Elizabeth Short’s right hip four years later.

  11. Lissa on April 25, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Okay, whoa. I missed this post originally! These guys definitely knew. This puts such a dark stain on those artists for me, now, and forever. The 1970s portrait by Man Ray is chilling to the bone. Steve, your thoughts on why her mouth is covered, seems like the right interpretation. It also epitomizes the attitude that Surrealist male artists had towards women and the female body: misogyny. Objects for their desire, consumption, and violent acts. When GHH murdered Elizabeth she no longer had a voice. She was violently and forever silenced (unshowable and unspeakable).

    It also convinces me that there is no way GHH murdered only one person.

    I appreciate deeply how your determination to continue with your investigation is giving a voice to Elizabeth by exposing who the killer was, his utter inhumanity/sadism and the inhumanity of the artists who remained complicit to this act. To pay homage to a sadistic killer the ways in which they have through their art is abhorrent. To be exploited the way she has by these artists is truly a dark day for me. I’m sure it’s been a dark journey for you, as well.

  12. Ben on August 11, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    Jut started listening to the podcast. Truly amazing stuff. I also just picked up your first book on Kindle.

    • Steve Hodel on August 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Ben: Yes, Truth far far stranger than fiction for sure. Best, Steve

  13. Mitch on September 8, 2019 at 2:34 am

    Steve, at your father’s death was June instructed to give you that box of photographs and if so do you think your father hoped you might attempt to unravel some of his secrets? Continuing his love for a cat and mouse game after his death? I would imagine in his narcissism he might want the intrigue to continue- forever! After all, why put a seasoned detective as the executor of his estate? If not, at his death was the game over for him? Thanks, love your books, Mitch

    • Steve Hodel on September 8, 2019 at 9:57 am

      No, just the opposite. My father had intended to “have a talk” with June sometime in late 1998 or early 1999 and the “Notes Letter” was to be his points of discussion. But, his health improved and he never had that talk and then after his death in May, 1999 June found the “Notes Letter” in his desk and asked me to “help her decipher its meanings.” In his intended “talk” he specifically instructs June to “destroy all of his personal effects.” At that time she gave me the small photo album containing the Elizabeth Short photo and many other family photos. (Had she followed his instructions, there most likely would never have been any investigation or books.) June was actually appointed the executor of his will/estate and I was named as “backup” only in case her death preceded his. June asked me to assist her in the handling of his estate, which I did.
      Yes, I think as you say, “Game Over” for him at his death. My belief is he did not want the world to know his many crimes.
      That said, I’m sure that there is a part of him that would absolutely be ecstatic and LOVE the fact that he in death has gotten “credit” as being identified as he conceived himself, “a master criminal.” The monster within him, having its ego stroked, (“Who is going to play me in the movie? Zodiac”) were it a sentient being, would be now taking constant bows. Regards, Steve.

  14. Joel V on April 16, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Would you consider “La Jumelle” as part of the Man Ray nexus?

    Also what do you think of Serkan Ozkaya’s idea that “Etant Donnes” was also meant to secretly project the image of a face?

    • Steve Hodel on April 16, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      Joel V: “La Jumelle” part of the Man Ray nexus? Yes, in the sense that the 1939 painting would/could have certainly been in “inspiration” for GHH to do the bisection as part of his own “masterpiece.” As to your second question, hard to really know if “Etant Donnes” was intended to project a face? I think it’s a bit of a stretch, but ?? So subjective that almost anyone can see anything they want to with the forms and shapes. Like you suggested, the hands in “Portrait Unknown Woman” can by some be seen as reproducing the geometric shape in “LEquivoque” others would say, “no way”. I never saw it until you suggest it, then my mind looked and said, “possible”? Who is correct? Guess, only the creator/artist KNOWS the truth of it? Best, steve

  15. Joel V on April 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    For me the pose of the hands in the 1970 portrait is evocative of the cross-hatching that appears in L’Equivoque.

  16. Jennifer on February 24, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    I always wondered why he did the bisection. It seems like this painting is another inspiration? Was the little girl in Chicago a practice for this (although no woman had been chosen yet) or was hers more related to a “callback” to JtR?
    I wonder if he had helpers/groupies in his early days (look outs, watchers, grunts).
    It also seems that he killed many people the “medical” way, but this was so easy and easy to get away with that the art/theatrical/gruesome aspects became desirable.
    With new DAs in LA & SF, is there a better chance at getting dna tested? Would appealing to the Governor help?
    Thanks for all you do— interesting that he “ordered” his personal effects destroyed, but did not do it himself. Did he die by medical drugs or natural causes? Also, it’s almost unbelievable to think he medically killed/or made sure didn’t wake up your grandpa! So many clues that only you could put together. I’m re/reading all the books now; we deserve the DNA testing!

    • Steve Hodel on February 25, 2021 at 8:50 pm


      Yes, one has to look at all his crimes holistically, see how his crime signatures/MO all eventually come together. The six books are really one ongoing progress report.
      GHH took his own life by OD’ing himself with Seconal. He wrote R/X to June until he had enough for a lethal dose, then took it. This was not out of regret or remore, but rather to avoid having to financial ruin them with hospital bills from a heart attack at age 91, which might just incapacitate him. He was suffering from the final stages of heart disease.

      • Tatiana C. on January 9, 2022 at 10:53 pm

        wow… this is all so fascinating… Steve, you have an amazing ability to decipher the messages hidden within the artwork as well as to explain and tie in the crime scene photos and lay it all out in a manner that is easily understood. You truly have such an amazing mind and I can’t believe you were able to piece everything together so well. I would have never even thought to examine the paintings and photographs to the degree you have, you seriously have blown my mind. I have so many questions for you, I cant even begin to imagine what your life must have been like and some of the things you have had to go through/be around. I am so amazed and astonished with how you used your upbringing, your detective skills, and knowledge of your father, among other things, to piece together all of these clues. Your work, as well as your determination and persistence, continue to amaze me. You truly are a phoenix risen from the ashes of fires set by GH. You used your upbringing and unfortunate situation to become the foundation for which you built an incredible legacy upon. You overcame such adversity and evil all around you and used your experience and intellect to decipher years of clues hidden in plain sight that noone else could see. You give a voice to the victims and bring light into an otherwise dark story. I am so fascinated by everything you have done as well as fascinated at how your mind works. I have so many questions I wish I could ask you, and so much I am dying to know about you and your life. Such an intriguing, incredible man with such a gift for understanding and explaining all of the different pieces of this puzzle. Truly a brilliant mind! <3

        • Steve Hodel on January 9, 2022 at 11:37 pm

          Tatiana C:
          Thanks for the very kind words. Much appreciated.
          Yes, it all comes together and as far as “my life and thinking” it is all pretty much presented in the series of books. Here’s a link to the suggested reading order below. Also, will be presenting the first five books: BDA I, II, III, and Most Evil I and II in a documentary hopefully to finish production in 1922. Best Regards, Steve

  17. Bridget G on June 10, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Every part of this is fascinating and makes such a sad and evil puzzle come together. Thank you for your commitment to finding the truth! My undergrad degree was in fine art and all these artist characters I remember vividly studying during countless hours of art history classes. I even did a video short likeness of Duchamp’s, Nude Descending the Staircase back then.

    I wonder, do you think there is any connection to Copley’s 6 surgical tools in It Is Midnight Dr.______ representing 6 individuals that were present/ involved with the murder? And also possibly a connection to the 6 cigar/ cigarette burns on ES back? The burns being a kind of ‘musketeers’ ‘blood brother’ type of commitment to solidarity? I can’t pretend to imagine who the 6 would be.

    I know completely speculation. I just can’t help myself having done critical analysis on so many film noir flicks in college.

    Looking forward to reading all your books!

    All the best,

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