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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Instead of spending your money on a jersey, maybe you'd rather bet it on a victory for your team, or on which team will score first, or on the average jersey number of all the players who will score a touchdown. All those are real bets, says Johnny Avello, the sports book director at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas.

Mr. JOHN AVELLO (Sports Book Director, Wynn Las Vegas): I'm actually in the sports book, in our VIP lounge.

WERTHEIMER: Those oddball wagers are called prop bets. And in Vegas, they can really pay off.

Mr. AVELLO: You never know what you're going to get. You know, if there's a large group of Wisconsin people in the hotel, that prop may (unintelligible) a lot of money, at a minimum probably anywhere from five to 10,000.

WERTHEIMER: Outside Vegas casinos, there are even stranger prop bets. On the sports betting site bodog.com, you can wager money on questions like what colored Gatorade will the winning team dump, will a punt hit the scoreboard, and how long will it take Christina Aguilera to sing the national anthem.

Mr. AVELLO: Christina Aguilera's, you know, song, if it's a minute and 40 seconds, who's going to be able to verify that for you? And who are you going to complain to if you believe it was 136 - a minute and 36 seconds? So that's where the problem lies on those type of props.

WERTHEIMER: Which is why, according to Johnny Avello in Las Vegas, the stranger sorts of prop bets are not legal in U.S. casinos.

But there is nothing to stop, say, a few hometown art museums from making a friendly wager. The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is betting a Renoir on a Steelers victory. And a Wisconsin art museum says they'll take that bet.

Joining me now from member station WHAD in Milwaukee is Daniel Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum; and from member station WQED in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art director Lynn Zelevansky.

Welcome to both of you.

Mr. DANIEL KEEGAN (Director, Milwaukee Art Museum): Hello, Linda.

Ms. LYNN ZELEVANSKY (Art Director, Carnegie Museum of Art): Hi. Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: First of all, let me ask you, who had this idea?

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: Well, it happened first a year ago, and it was at the instigation of an art blogger named Tyler Green. And it just seemed like a wonderful thing to do. And Dan was very happy to join us in this. So that was great.

Mr. KEEGAN: I was happy because we have no intention of losing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: There you go.

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: Well, I know that. And we feel the same way, of course.

WERTHEIMER: Lynn Zelevansky, tell us about this high-stakes Renoir that will go to Milwaukee should the Steelers lose.

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: It's a wonderful Renoir bathers, which is a classical scene. It's a later Renoir, which is the Renoir that everybody loves, all those lovely pink maidens.

WERTHEIMER: So four women, bathing in the sea all...

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: Nude.

WERTHEIMER: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: So Daniel Keegan, what have you offered?

Mr. KEEGAN: Well, we've got a painting with three guys who are paddling in skiffs on the Yerres Rivers, a famous painting by Gustave Caillebotte done in 1977, amongst one of his most loved and most well-known masterpieces.

This particular painting that we have in our collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum has been featured in every major exhibition on the artist since the late 19th century.

WERTHEIMER: And it is very beautiful. And I would think that would be really nice for Pittsburgh, because Pittsburgh does have so much boating on its rivers.

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: It is nice for us. And we have a very, very strong Impressionist and post-Impressionist collection, but we don't have Caillebotte. It's not easy to find Caillebotte. So I am looking forward to bringing Caillebotte to the museum.

WERTHEIMER: And Daniel, what about you?

Mr. KEEGAN: We thought the Caillebotte would be a great choice. Our docents were extremely upset because they love to teach to this painting. And they said, how could you possibly think of giving up the Caillebotte? And I said, well, that's the point. We have no intention of giving it up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: Let's just make clear that both of these are loans. The paintings go to the other museum for a period of some months and then come home.

But if you want to see the two paintings hanging together, check out our website, npr.org, where we've got them up.

So what are the odds, Daniel, do you think, that you will see that Renoir?

Mr. KEEGAN: I think the odds are about even, because the Steelers are an incredible football team. But I would say this: We're going to have a great painting from a great museum in Milwaukee. We're excited about this.

WERTHEIMER: Lynn?

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: We feel exactly the same way. We will be very fortunate to have this wonderful Caillebotte in our galleries.

WERTHEIMER: Lynn Zelevansky, who is director of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, and Daniel Keegan, who is director of the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, thanks to both of you. Good luck.

Mr. KEEGAN: Thank you.

Ms. ZELEVANSKY: Thank you.

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