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12-Year-Old Gets Taste of the Life of a Starving Artist

October 06, 1994

A West Hollywood boy has learned first-hand that artists don't get rich quick.

Last March, 12-year-old Dan Degendorfer entered a student art contest in West Hollywood Park. The competition was co-sponsored by the city of West Hollywood and the Citibank branch on Sunset Boulevard.

The boy ended up taking first prize with a colored-pencil sketch of animals, a work that had an anti-hunting theme.

"Congratulations!" gushed a prize letter to Degendorfer dated March 19. "You have won a $100 savings bond donated by Citibank. You will receive your prize in the mail in three to four weeks. . . . "

Maybe young Dan should have been tipped off by that line about the mail. Last Friday, the boy finally received a check from Citibank--for $50, not $100--after a series of irate phone calls from his father, Joseph, to various officials.

"I've waited a long time," Dan said last week before he received the prize money. "I thought they really liked my picture."

Citibank officials say they sent $50 because that's what the $100 bond would be worth if it were redeemed today. But nobody involved seems willing or able to explain why it took so long to send the check.

Citibank branch manager Tommy McMullins told a reporter: "We had no intention of withholding checks from anyone." He referred further questions to company publicists. A Citibank spokeswoman in San Francisco would say only: "This is certainly not the way we like to do things. . . . We're a bit embarrassed by this."

But evidently not embarrassed enough to give up on winning young Dan's business. The letter of apology sent with the check encourages the boy to deposit his award in a Citibank account.

*

GETTING DUMPED ON: Ah, we always suspected that Beverly Hills' majestic Greystone mansion was star-crossed, with its history of murder and abandonment. So, perhaps we should have expected an unwelcome drop-in visitor at the estate completed in 1928 by oil baron Edward Doheny Sr.

It was a bright, sunny afternoon last week when a dump truck picked up a load of construction debris, and hauled it away from a residential project in the hilly, northern reaches of Beverly Hills--down some steeply graded streets.

Greystone is known for its colossal size. The grounds, which are open to the public, cover 18 acres and include lavish gardens. The mansion, which is closed to the public, has no less than 55 rooms.

Few realize that the estate also possesses a runaway truck ramp.

The fully laden dump truck apparently lost its brakes, and after an exciting ride, exited onto the truck ramp leading onto the estate. But the truck failed to stop and went over the end of the ramp--smack into the estate's stone gatehouse.

Witnesses reported that the truck looked like an accordion, and construction rubble was tossed everywhere. Miraculously, the driver suffered no serious injuries, police said. Nor, in fact, did the gatehouse, which was apparently built to last.

The resulting mess perhaps wasn't on the same scale of the 1929 shooting death of Edward Doheny Jr. in a first-floor guest room. Nor did it compare to the disrepair the mansion has suffered since it was vacated by the Doheny family in 1955.

But it was a trashy indignity nonetheless.

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