"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 now. Along the way, he pulls into the parking lot of a dentist's office on Thomas Road. "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."

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's 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.

Jamie Peachey
Rick Orr, the king of the pickers, with RED Modern Furniture owner Jonathan Wayne (left).
Orr has made a career out of finding undervalued works of art and reselling them to guys like Wayne, though the Internet and a down economy has put a huge dent in the trade.
Jamie Peachey
Rick Orr, the king of the pickers, with RED Modern Furniture owner Jonathan Wayne (left). Orr has made a career out of finding undervalued works of art and reselling them to guys like Wayne, though the Internet and a down economy has put a huge dent in the trade.

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."

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