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i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> i am hoop. >> i'm baird jones. >> two eccentrics from new york's disco days. >> if you were on baird's list, your social life was assured. >> two oddball art collections. >> all right. >> mel brooks, david bowie, art carney, muhammad ali. >> but the weirdest thing about this story... >> and it's really solid. nothing's going to fall off. >> ...is how the square from the burbs ends up with both. >> i can only imagine this driving around the streets of new york. >> will this two-for-one strange inheritance -- >> i've got $150, can get a $175? once, twice. first piece sold. >> ...ultimately add up? [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ]
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[ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today and i'm in the pocono mountains of pennsylvania on my way to meet an heir with a head-spinning story that will take us back to 1970s manhattan, the era of punk rock, disco and wild parties at studio 54. >> my name is hugh hooper. back in 2008, my brother hoop received a very strange inheritance. when he died three years later, he left one twice as strange to me. >> hugh, hi. i'm jamie. >> how are you doing, jamie? nice to meet you. >> so great to meet you. you know, i don't come out of manhattan for just anything, but i heard your inheritance is way cool. >> it is. it's crazy. but you can keep manhattan. i'll take the country. >> all right. let's see it. >> you wanna see it? go ahead. >> absolutely. hugh's strange inheritance is actually two separate art collections that belonged
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to two separate people. here's some of the first, parked on the pathway outside his home. what is this? >> well, this is hoop's cars. they call this the musicmobile. >> christmas albums, paul simon. [ playing notes ] it still works. and this is just a fraction of the far-out fleet he inherited. >> everything you could imagine, trucks, cars, little bmw isettas where you had to get in between the headlights. >> they do need a little bit of repair. >> well, i don't have the heart to touch it. >> that's because the creator of the auto art is his dearly departed brother, steven douglas hooper. >> this is me and my brother. >> steven is born in 1946 and raised in clifton, new jersey.
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according to big brother hugh, he's a cutup from an early age. >> my brother was normal until he was about 8, and then he changed. >> uh-oh. what happened? >> he started acting like stan laurel and mugging and dancing around. and he always had this crazy sense of humor. >> the brothers are drawn down two very different paths. hugh joins the army. little steven idolizes pop-art sensation andy warhol and the psychedelic painters of the 1960s. he wants to be part of that scene. >> as he got into high school, he just got totally into art. >> steven takes a few classes at a small art college. big brother hugh gets married and starts a family. >> where did he get the money to pursue a passion and not have to get a real job like the rest of us? >> well, steven had a job. he worked in a book binder. he operated a forklift. >> but when their mother has a serious health setback, the brothers must figure out a plan. >> we decided not to put her
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in a nursing home, so my brother gave up his job at the book binder, and i just paid the bills. my brother was like my hero. he took care of my mother. it's my obligation. we're blood of blood. >> in the early 1980s, with their mom in stable health, steven rents a studio in the edgy east village neighborhood of manhattan. and there, in his mid-30s, he begins to shine. hugh's now the guy with the wife and daughter in jersey, running a trucking company. so, it's not his scene, but he loves steven's stories. >> he showed up at a party one night in greenwich village. he was wearing a bright blue tux with black fleur-de-lis. he looked across the room. somebody else had the same tux. it was tiny tim. they became best friends. >> the goofy falsetto-voiced tiny tim is just one of hoop's famous, near famous, or used-to-be-famous acquaintances, and he's driven to achieve fame, too. when he gets his hands on an old
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bmw isetta, he covers it in psychedelic fur. the first hoop mobile is born. >> i am hoop, the self-proclaimed king of art. >> my brother loved to introduce us as twins, and then everybody would go, "hmm." we didn't even look like we knew each other. i was military. he was hippie. >> it's not easy to become a well-known artist. you have to do one more outrageous thing after another. >> that means turning more and more cars into zany sculptures. he's the canvertible and the voodoo volkswagen. >> he actually had a van. he cut the front end off of another van. he bolted it on the back of his. he had two front ends. he said, "i don't know if i'm coming or going. it's the time machine." he covered it in clocks, and he drove all over the place. >> around this time, hoop meets a new york preppie name baird jones, who also likes hanging with the glitterati
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and who has his own unique artistic vision. you're about to hear about the other half of hugh hooper's strange inheritance. >> this is a picture that james dean drew. this is tony bennett. >> signed "bennett." >> they're all signed. >> signed by muhammad ali, adolf hitler, charles manson, buddy hackett, paul mccartney and more. that's great. >> vincent price. >> after the break... >> but first our "strange inheritance" quiz question. which '70s hard rock band switched gears to cut the solid-gold disco hit "i was made for loving you"? kiss, iron maiden or the ramones? the answer when we return. hello. - hi. how's it going? - alright, how ya doing? - welcome! so, this is the all-new chevy traverse. what do ya think? this looks better than 99% of the suvs out there.
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>> so, which '70s hard rock band switched gears to cut the disco gold record "i was made for loving you"? it's a, kiss. the song's cowriter, paul stanley, said he wanted to prove it was easy to make a disco hit. >> so, where were we? oh, right. in the middle of a story about how hugh hooper came into inherit not one but two strange art collections. one was a fleet of car sculptures created by his younger brother, steven, also known
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as hoop or the king of art, if you please. the second collection, as you're about to see, was curated apparently at significant cost by a classic new york character named baird jones. >> baird had a standard preppy uniform. khaki pants, baseball hat, and would send out these little invitation cards. >> author marianne macy met baird in the early '80s, when he's known as the columbia university grad student who throws the best parties in town. >> he was from a "social register" family. he had numerous graduate degrees. >> baird starts collecting art created by pop-culture celebrities, like these scribbled drawings by miles davis and jimmy stewart. others are by stars who are also artists, like anthony quinn and david bowie. baird works for clubs
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and discos like the famed studio 54, where he's a doorman and party promoter. >> he was extraordinary at getting together really unlikely combinations of people from preppy to downtown grunge. >> the young nightlife impresario rubbed shoulders with hundreds of new york celebs. he leverages those connections to moonlight as a gossip-column tipster. >> besides inviting me to all of his events, he used to provide gossip-column items for me. >> richard johnson is a longtime editor for the ultimate big apple gossip column, the new york post's page six. why did people love him? was it his personality or his connections, his ability to throw a good party? >> i imagine that there's a lot of couples out there now with children, who met at one of baird's party.
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>> no one knows when and where baird and hoop meet but by the early '80s, they're best buds. they love andy warhol and discover synergy in merging the psychedelic stars with the disco ball. baird and hoop join forces prompting east village artists at in clubs such as max's kansas city, palladium, and webster hall. >> they were big parties. you know, i mean, they were sort of cheesy. he would say on the invites, "copious hors d'oeuvres." so, they'd be 10 people deep. you'd be lucky if you could get one drink before they closed the open bar. >> some events feature baird's growing celebrity art collection. by baird's counting, he spends over a million dollars to add works by bob dylan, dee dee ramone, vincent price, and buddy hackett. he also snatches up works by simply notorious figures -- john gotti, adolf hitler, charles manson,
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and john wayne gacy. his art shows attract even more bold-face names. >> he kept a database, and so he could mail out, you know, 5,000 invitations at a time. if you were on baird's list, you know you're going to run into a 100 people you know. you're bound to see hoop. he sort of had the same crew always there. >> but every great party comes to an end. and in 2007, concern is spreading among baird's closest friends, like marianne macy. >> you know, the 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. lifestyle had to change. he didn't look healthy. people's lifestyles changed, and baird was still out there doing a lot of the same stuff. >> do you want to do it afterwards? >> no, right now is cool. >> i think it was more like work for him later. >> on february 21, 2008, baird jones, life of the party circuit, is found dead in his apartment. he's 53 years old. do you remember when you heard he had passed?
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>> i was shocked. i mean, he was way too young to die, and i didn't know that he had ever had any health problems. >> an autopsy reveals it was a heart attack. in his will, baird gives all his property to his good friend hoop, an estate said to be worth $2 million, not including his celebrity art collection. how surprised was he that he had gotten this inheritance? >> he was pretty surprised. he, he didn't expect it, really. >> i think it would just like baird to take care of his buddy, and that's what he did. >> do you want to see a bunch of the celebrity art downstairs? zero mostel. here's a, a jack kevorkian. >> the inheritance doesn't change hoop much. he busies himself with his cars, which are written up in the new york times. he's even interviewed by geraldo and featured in indie films. >> this is my matchbox mobile. i was commissioned by
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the toy company mattel. they gave me 500 cars. you can play with it, too. >> but as fate would have it, hoop's wild ride is coming to an end as well. >> tell me what happened. >> he had a rash. he just thought it was psoriasis. and then he got this one rash that didn't disappear, and it continued to get worse. >> the diagnosis -- cancer. >> my artwork gives me inspiration to keep going. i get up, and i look out the window, and i said, "i got to do a little more to that car today." [ barking ] >> hoop keeps up his life as an artist and new york character with help from his older brother. >> i gave him all kinds of nutritional stuff. he had no side effects from the chemo at all right until the very end. >> in september 2011, hoop dies at the age of 64.
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>> it's a hole in your life when you lose part of your family. nothing can fill it. >> hoop leaves everything to his big brother, hugh. >> we were opposites but totally bonded. what was mine was his, and what was his was mine. >> and now, what's hugh's are two strange inheritances in one, and as you're about to see, a big dilemma. what to do with it all? >> here's another quiz question for you. these three pictures are from the baird jones celebrity art collection. can you guess which was painted by leonardo dicaprio? "a," "b," or "c"? the answer after the break. finally. hey ron! they're finally taking down that schwab billboard.
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>> so, which of these pictures from the baird jones collection was painted by leonardo dicaprio? it's "c." for the record, "a" was painted by jonathan winters, and "b" by dinah shore. >> in 2011, hugh hooper comes into his strange inheritance, two bizarre art collections created and curated by a couple of quintessential new york city characters. the first was his eccentric brother, hoop, who produced dozens of wacky sculptures from various automobiles. the second came from hoop's preppy party-planner pal, baird jones -- a large collection of artworks by a vast array of famous and notorious figures. he focuses first on his brother's car sculptures. two things are immediately clear. he has no place for them,
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and there's no place to sell them. >> all the fun in these cars had been had because he isn't here. >> so, hugh lets his brother's friends cart away any hoop mobiles they fancy. but, hugh, aren't you a little concerned that you'll lose that connection to him? >> no. no, the connection isn't in things. the connection's in your heart. >> hugh is less emotionally attached to the second weird art collection. the hundreds of celebrity paintings and drawings that he inherited through his brother from baird jones. who's that? >> okay. that's the queen of monaco. >> ooh. >> grace kelly. >> so, there's royalty. >> yes. >> jimmy stewart. >> jimmy stewart. >> yeah. >> harvey. that was the character. >> john gotti, "bikini," nice. you know what he was thinking about. >> that's one of my favorites. >> remember, baird jones spoke about spending a million dollars to acquire all this artwork. hugh decides to auction it all off.
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>> this is muhammad ali. >> in the ring. >> in the ring. >> hugh, you're going to sell this? >> yes, i am because who's going to enjoy it? nobody's getting any chance to look at it. that's what art is for, it's for people to appreciate. >> you think it's worth anything? >> i would imagine it is. what, i don't know. >> he's about to find out. let's open up at $1,500. $1,600, $1,700, $1,800. >> what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, srangeinheritance.com. ♪ no, please, please, oh! ♪ (shrieks in terror) (heavy breathing and snorting) no, no. the running of the bulldogs? surprising. what's not surprising?
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>> now, back to "strange inheritance." >> in june 2016, hugh hooper's ready to auction off what's left of his strange inheritance, a trove of celebrity artwork collected by a preppy new york party promoter named baird jones. jones is said to have poured more than a million dollars into the collection
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before he died and willed it to hugh's brother, hoop. hugh chooses robert rogal of rogallery in long island city to handle the sale. mel brooks, peter falk, jimi hendrix, adolf hitler. >> quite a weird collection but a lot of name-brand material. >> it's the steven hooper, a.k.a. "hoop," celebrity art collection. >> and off we go. internet and phone bidders are standing by. >> opening price on this one is $100. >> it starts quietly with a work entitled "self-portrait with butterfly" by the famous french mime, marcel marceau. >> at $100, $100 and quarter now. got a bid of, go $125. at $125 now, at $125, last call. sold at $100. mel brooks. >> this cartoon scribble by a famous funny man fares
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somewhat better. >> $400. peter falk. >> detective columbo beats that easily. >> $600. this john gotti. >> crime pays a little more. >> "bikini on mars," sold for $1,100. we continue. "horror hospital," ink and marker drawing, dee dee ramone. we're at $1,300 right now, looking for $1,400, $1,400. give me $1,500. sold at $1,500. >> and remember that muhammad ali painting called "sting like a bee"? >> $1,500, $1,600, $1,700, >> it packs a bit more punch. >> all done -- $2,800. >> alas, that's the biggest celebrity hit of the night. >> buddy hackett, sold, $250. rudy giuliani, $800. >> at this rate... >> david bowie, sold at $550. jimi hendrix. >> ...baird jones' million-dollar investment in celebrity art... >> sold at $300. henry fonda.
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>> ...is looking like a big bust. >> pass it. pass, and we'll pass. moving along. >> this color-pencil doodle by actor ed asner starts with an minimum bid of 400 bucks. >> any bids, $400? and we'll pass. [ buzzer sounds ] >> will matthew broderick do any better? >> any bids at $100? >> $100 only. >> nope. >> and we're passing. [ buzzer sounds ] and we have now "courtyard of the old residency in munich." the artist is adolf hitler. we'll start at $50 and now $75. we're looking for $75 on this. last call, we're at $100. sold at $100 and glad to have it pass me. >> out of the 300 works put up for auction, about a third of them sell. the grand total, 43k. hugh expresses surprise if not disappointment. >> it was some things that didn't sell that really i thought would sell very easily.
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but i think it was a good sale, and it also honors my brother, and that's very important to me. >> the unsold items include works by james dean, fred astaire, phyllis diller, and kurt vonnegut, which, come to think of it, is a pretty good start to a invite list for yet another cosmic-art happening baird and hoop are surely planning wherever they are. >> it will be a long time before we see anything like them. they were both really unusual people. together they were fantastic. >> so much that's hip in one generation is totally uncool to the next. old uncle hoop once drove his niece, hugh's daughter, to school in one of his hoop mobiles. the teen was mortified. after that, all hugh had to say to keep her in line was, "watch out, young lady, or uncle hoop will be driving you again tomorrow."
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i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> pedal-pushing primates. >> grandpa would go with a young gorilla on a motorcycle, go get a slurpee. >> grappling great apes. >> people would come and watch people box and wrestle. >> but, this whole "gorilla magilla"... >> people would come and picket the facility. >> ...is no barrel of monkeys. >> i was told "don't open this envelope until i pass away." he's a good boy. >> that sounds like an ultimatum. >> it was. game on. ♪

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