Billy Milligan Became A Painter After His Infamous 1970s Case

He said his artwork was created by his various alternate personalities.

by Justice Namaste
an image showing different drawings done by Billy Milligan, the subject of the Netflix docuseries

Netflix’s Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan examines the life of Billy Milligan, whose diagnosis with disassociative identity disorder (then called multiple personality disorder) led him to become the first person in the U.S. to be found not guilty of a violent crime due to criminal insanity. Milligan was charged with three rapes that occurred on the Ohio State University campus in the 1970s, and the case received national attention after his legal counsel argued that Milligan should not be convicted of the assaults since they were allegedly not committed by his primary personality.

One of the parts of Milligan’s life explored in the docuseries is his love of sketching and painting, which apparently began during his childhood but became a means for him to support himself financially after his case. Milligan’s artwork was supposedly created by his different personalities, and his pieces ranged in theme, subject, and style, but reportedly often involved children. A pencil sketch (by his alternate personality Ragan) depicts a rag doll dangling from a hangman’s noose, while another more detailed painting depicts a nature scene, and a third is a still life of a vase of flowers. Milligan also painted a number of portraits, including one of his lawyer, a doctor at one of the mental facilities where he was treated, and the author of the 1981 book The Minds of Billy Milligan.

The morbid fascination with Milligan’s case was key to the popularity of his paintings: in 1989, an art gallery in Columbus, Ohio even put on a very controversial showing of his work. Although there were rumors that Milligan made substantial amounts of money from his art (including one that he had sold a painting for $10,000 to a woman driving a Rolls Royce), anecdotally many of his paintings seemed to be gifts for people he knew. “Of course the rumors began that every painting he sold was very expensive. Well, it wasn't true. He did paintings for people around town that he gave to them,” Milligan’s former attorney L. Alan Goldsberry told a local newspaper in 2015, one year after Milligan passed. Regardless, as recently as 2012 Milligan’s paintings were valued between $3,000 and $8,000 — and it’s possible that amount will go up with the release of the Netflix docuseries bringing Milligan’s story back into the mainstream.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit