The client is calling to say she has cancer. She has recently purchased a piece of Paolo Venini glass for $12,000 and is trying to sell it to help pay her medical bills. She'll take $6,000 for the piece, which is among her favorites. Orr tells her he's sorry. He calls her "Hon." He says that not only is her piece of glass only worth a couple thousand dollars in today's market, but he thinks she should sell it for whatever she can get. Her health, he reminds her, is more important than Italian glass.

"It's the economy, man," Orr says, hanging up and heading for his van. "People have lost their jobs, and they're looking at their collections of crap crammed into a half-million-dollar house in Gainey Ranch, and they're going, 'Man, I wish I had a one-bedroom condo and a bunch of money in the bank right about now.'"

He's headed home. Along the way he pulls into the parking lot of a dentist's office. "This was my building here," he says of the low, flagstone-covered building by lauded modernist architect Al Beadle. "My daughter and I lived in the back, and I had a storefront where I'd meet dealers. Those were good times."

Kenneth Lesko of Cleveland's Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery says eBay "can't replace the Rick Orrs of the art world."
Courtesy Of Kenneth Lesko
Kenneth Lesko of Cleveland's Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery says eBay "can't replace the Rick Orrs of the art world."

Good times are long gone, Orr fears. He can't manipulate the end of his real life the way he did the movie version of himself. He has thought about opening a gallery, but even if he had the capital, he's not cut out for sitting still long enough to run one. "Anyway, I hate the idea of all that schmoozing and party-throwing and telling people how great they look," he says, pulling into his driveway.

What he really wants to do is walk into an estate sale and find a Picasso hanging over someone's mantel. And if he does, will he use the proceeds to retire to a sunny cottage near the sea?

Rick Orr squints through his windshield at the plaster duck staring at him from just outside his front door.

"The truth," he finally says, "is that even if I never found another thing, I'd want to spend the rest of my life picking."

Robrt L. Pela is a columnist for RFT's sister paper, Phoenix New Times.
« Previous Page