Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell three stories about someone going to great lengths to protect a piece of art, only one of which is true.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Alonzo Bodden, Faith Salie and Adam Burke. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Right now it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON’T TELL ME.

MARSHALL RANKIN: Hi, my name is Marshall, and I'm from McAllen, Texas.

SAGAL: Oh, how are things in McAllen, Texas?

RANKIN: Hot. We're about as far south as you can go in Texas and still be in Texas. From my door, I could be in Mexico in 10 minutes.

SAGAL: Well, you can now.


SAGAL: But wait till President Trump builds that wall.


SAGAL: Well, it's nice to have you with us, Marshall. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Marshall's topic?

KURTIS: Paint me like one of your French girls.


SAGAL: Art - it's what makes us human, and it gives us something to hang over the couch. This week, we read a story about somebody going to great lengths to protect a piece of art. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth and you will win our prize - a nude painting of Carl Kasell...


SAGAL: ...On your voicemail.


RANKIN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It's very classy, though, very classy.


SAGAL: You ready to play?

RANKIN: Yes sir.

SAGAL: All right, here we go. First, let's hear from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: When Bill Dobbs of Las Vegas died, art critic and James Stanmore found out somewhere between "Hoarders" and "Storage Wars" was Bill Dobbs. Everyone thought Bill was tasteless, and it turns out his tastes were priceless. Bill was known by his friends for notoriously bad taste. "He never played golf, but you wouldn't have known it by his clothes," said Wilson Light, a longtime friend. "I think the best combination was his purple pants and - with sort of a mint green stripe matched with a pink and blue plaid golf shirt. It was as if his clothes were mad at each other."


BODDEN: "Bill had a gold Cadillac Eldorado with a gray vinyl top and red seats, and we joke with him that he must have made it 'cause Cadillac wouldn't build such a thing.


BODDEN: The worst was his so-called art collection. The walls in his home had velvet Elvis's and dogs playing poker. Well, now we find something else he had - a multimillion dollar art collection - a Jackson Pollock painting worth $3 million hung between two 3-D neon pieces that would move when you looked at them.


BODDEN: The weird drawing in his bedroom that looked like a Picasso was a Picasso.


BODDEN: Bill explained it all in his will, which left of the artwork to museums. He believed - and rightly so - that no art thief is going to enter a home protected by a velvet Elvis.


BODDEN: Turns out those dogs weren't playing poker. They were the best guard dogs art money could buy.


SAGAL: A collector who hid his masterpieces with a show of bad taste. Your next story of the defense of dark and other arts comes from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: Heracles, also notice the Roman god Hercules, is usually depicted in all his naked CrossFit glory, wearing the skin of a lion and holding a club. And that's how the statue of Heracles stands proudly in a French Park in the seaside town of Arcachon - well, sort of proudly, as proud as a Greek hero can be when he's missing his other club - his man club.


SALIE: Heracles may have slept with 50 women in a single night and fathered 65 children, but his baby-maker isn't powerful enough to stay attached when there are sticky-fingered vandals about. Over and over, the statue has been left with nothing but a denuded adult metal rod, stripped of girth, neither showing nor growing.


SALIE: The town's mayor feels his pain. (Imitating French accent) "I wouldn't want anyone, not even my worst enemies to go through what happens to the statue," Mayor Yves Foulon declared. So he came up with a solution - introducing the detachable wanker.


SALIE: Town officials have given Heracles some dignity, with a prosthetic package they have fixed to his groin for ceremonial events. When the event is over, they rip it off and bam, once again he's been made into an organ donor.


SALIE: But Heracles is taking it like a man, standing erect - just not as erect as he could be.


SAGAL: A town in France that has to unman the statue of Heracles in order to protect it. Your last story of protecting a masterpiece comes from Adam Burke.

ADAM BURKE: When world-famous graffiti artist Banksy flashes one of his signature pieces onto the side of a hoarding in an abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of Sutton, England, most of the indigent population who shelter there were nonplussed, none that is except for Harlow Gaffney, an ex-adjunct lecturer of art who currently resides in an abandoned boxcar.

"I immediately recognized it for what it was and was frankly honored that Banksy would grace our humble enclave with one of his pieces," said Gaffney. He was worried, however, that the piece, entitled "The Fat Controller," which depicts Thomas the Tank Engine dumping nuclear waste into the Thames, would either become vandalized itself or, in Gaffney's words, besmirched by the local transients who may not appreciate it as I do.

Gaffney sprang into action and using nearby pieces of corrugated iron and discarded pieces of timber, erected a makeshift enclosure for the piece. "It's not the Guggenheim, but it's serviceable," said Gaffney.

Before long, news of the ad hoc museum had reached the ears of Sutton's local art lovers, who began making a pilgrimage out to the dilapidated stockyard to see both the Banksy, the museum and its ragged self-appointed curator. Gaffney began charging an admission fee. And it's perhaps this, along with the throngs of onlookers, that began to irk at Gaffney's fellow rail yard denizens. "It's changed the whole tone of the place," said a woman known only as Myra, who has called the tractor home for several years. "I'm just trying to get some kip, and I have to deal with this lot going on about trenchant visual metaphors.


SAGAL: All right...


SAGAL: Let's review your choices - from Alonzo, a collector who hid his priceless masterpieces amidst lots of tasteless art, from Faith Salie, a statue of Hercules that has to be - well, diminished to keep vandals from going after it, or from Adam Burke, a Banksy work who inspires a museum built around it by a homeless art professor. Which of these is the real story of lengths being taken to protect art?

RANKIN: I'm going to go with removable wanker.

SAGAL: The removable wanker.

SALIE: It's such a good idea.

SAGAL: All right, that's your choice. You have chosen Faith's story. Well, we spoke to someone familiar with that real story.

DMITRY SHUSTER: A lot of places have vandalism, but this idea where they do a prosthetic removable phallic symbol, I just never heard of anything like that.


SAGAL: That was Dmitry Shuster. He's the manager of Antique & Art Restoration Center near Chicago, Ill., talking about this novel attempt to both save and diminish the statue of Hercules in France. Congratulations Marshall, you got it right. Well done.

SALIE: Thanks Marshall.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Faith, and you've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done.

RANKIN: Woo - thank you very much.

SAGAL: Thank you.


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