The strange tale of Stéphane Breitweiser
, arguably the world's greatest art thief, who managed to steal hundreds of works valued, in total, at well over one billion dollars.
His success was largely attributable to a a loophole in the world of art security: that there's not much security on the front-end (in the museums). Instead, as Michael Finkel notes in a Feb 2019 article in GQ
, "art crimes are typically solved on the back end, when the thieves try to sell the work."
And that's why Breitweiser managed to get away with his thefts for so long, because he never tried to sell anything. He stole because he loved the art and wanted to have it for himself, accumulating it all in his mother's house, where he lived.
His case reminds me of Joseph Feldman, who stole over 15,000 books from the New York Public Library
, simply because he loved books. It suggests a recurring weird-news theme: thieves who steal not from a profit motive, but instead to indulge their obsessive collecting.
It doesn’t exactly look like the most sophisticated game. So why are copies of Poop Slinger selling for close to $3000 on eBay
? Because it’s the rarest PlayStation 4 game in existence. Only 84 copies were ever sold, making it a collector’s item.
Read the full story at: vg247.com
By chance, I recently happened to meet a fellow San Diegan, Paul Franke, who has in his garage a collection of 22,000 license plates. Of course, I was interested in seeing that, and he was kind enough to invite me over and spend an afternoon showing it to me.
I hadn't realized how popular license plate collecting is. The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association
has almost 3000 members, and it holds an annual national convention, as well as smaller regional ones. But even within this large community of collectors, Paul's collection of 22,000 plates is very impressive.
Guinness lists the largest collection of license plates in the world
as being that of Péter and Tamás Kenyeres who have 11,345 plates. Seeing that, I wondered if Paul actually had the true world record. But no, he assures me that Guinness is wrong. While his collection is undeniably large, he doubts it's even the biggest in San Diego County, and this BBC article
indicates there's a collector in Florida with over 50,000 plates.
Paul stores his license plates thematically. Along one wall (above left) he has boxes of plates arranged by state. (He long ago acquired plates from every state.) On another wall (above right) he has boxes of plates with more random themes. For instance, he has a box of error plates. Can you spot the errors in the examples below?
(scroll to the bottom of this post for the answers)
More in extended >>
An idea recently introduced by Hanes, which is putting trading cards featuring Michael Jordan modeling underwear into packs of their men's underwear. From the press release:
Beginning March 11, more than 800,000 specially marked bonus packs of Hanes men’s underwear, including Comfort Flex Fit boxer briefs, will contain a pack of 30th Anniversary Michael Jordan trading cards. A total of 170 different Fleer trading cards have been produced by The Upper Deck Company, each with a picture of Jordan from one of his Hanes advertisements on the front and vital statistics and fun facts on the back. Cards are inserted randomly in five-card packs. Ten lucky consumers will find a rare Michael Jordan autograph card in their packs.
If there's a total of 170 different cards, how much underwear would you need to buy to get them all?
You will spend some fun time browsing the commemorative spoons at Spoon Planet
. I want this Rockette one.
Now, when someone says,
"I don't have enough spoons to get through the day," you can send them here!
Over the course of a decade, from around 1965 to 1975, Joseph Feldman managed to steal 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He was caught when firemen entered his Greenwich Village apartment while responding to an alarm in his building and discovered all the books, piled up everywhere. When asked why he had taken them all, Feldman responded, “I like to read.”
Arizona Daily Star - Sep 27, 1975
In the 21st century, playwright Erika Mijlin
was inspired to write a play, Feldman and the Infinite
, about the incident. It was first performed in 2008. Her description of it:
In 1975, Feldman, a 58-year-old lawyer in New York City, was discovered to have stolen 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He had rented two or three apartments in the West Village specifically to store these books, and it took 20 men, 7 truckloads over 3 days to remove them all. Feldman and the Infinite is a play that ultimately invents Feldman’s motives, and speculates about the universality of his quest - seeking knowledge and enlightenment, and finding what appears to be randomness and chaos.
And below, a video clip of the performance.
In addition to creating works of his own, artist Barton Lidice Benes collected random, weird stuff, which is detailed in his 2002 book Curiosa: Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, and Other Metamorphic Rubbish
. Seems like it could be of interest to WUvies! Some of the items include:
- Larry Hagman’s gallstone
- a straw used by Monica Lewinsky
- a statue of the Virgin Mary made out of dollar bills
- a penny found in Sigmund Freud’s couch
- a piece of coal from the Titanic
- a cross made out of nails from the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas
- a fork used by actor Steven Van Zandt of The Sopranos
- Gore Vidal’s swizzle stick and coaster
- Art Buchwald’s toothpick
After Benes died in 2012, the North Dakota Museum of Art
received much of his collection.
More info: wikipedia
With over 35,000 items, ranging from beer cans to cocktail napkins, matchbook covers to letterheads and many other tchotchkes, the Tavern Trove site
provides many happy hours of browsing into the weird niches of the liquor biz.
After the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June, 1968, the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp. rushed out with a commemmorative, 55-card set of RFK bubble gum cards. It presented "the story of Robert F. Kennedy... with bubble gum."
Kids must have been rushing out to get these.
The cards seem to have appreciated reasonably well in price. Individual cards now range from $3 to $26
in price. You can get an unopened pack for about $65
image source: Huggins and Scott
Bridgeport Post - Aug 28, 1968