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$2,200 Trash Can? Sure, Why Not?

Designers share their visions of the ultimate wastebasket

September 20, 2002|MARY McNAMARA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just when we'd almost recovered from the $6,000 shower curtain, here comes the $2,200 trash can.

Suitable for shredded remains of key documents or just crumpled-in-despair copies of today's headlines, this wastebasket was pulled from the 5th Avenue pied a terre of former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski, one of three Tyco executives recently charged with unlawfully "enriching themselves at the expense of the company."

The government report that led to these charges included descriptions and price tags from the duplex that Kozlowski apparently furnished on the company's tab.

Of the many high-end decorative flourishes provided by Wendy Valliere of Nantucket's Seldom Scene Interiors, none seem quite so remarkable as the $2,200 wastebasket.

It's difficult to imagine what would make a trash can worth two grand. Historical notoriety--the receptacle in which Thomas Jefferson chucked early drafts of the Declaration of Independence, the bin containing Marilyn Monroe's last vial of Seconal--might raise the bid at a Christie's auction.

A Warhol trash can could also add another 0, and, of course, precious metals and gems or a shard of the True Cross can cost a pretty penny.

But according to reports, Kozlowski's was a perfectly ordinary $2,200 "gilt metal wastebasket," the kind any of us might have just lying about, filled with, well, trash.

"I heard that on the news and I just laughed and laughed," said Jenny Armit, a high-end interior designer based in L.A. and London. "I thought, 'Please, God, send me a client who's that stupid.' It's just ludicrous, isn't it? I mean what on Earth could it have looked like?"

This is what everyone wants to know, or at least, this is what we want to know. And so we asked a handful of designers to sketch for us their visions of such a thing.

Everyone was thrilled with such a budget, and at least one--Jarret Hedborg--had been fiddling around with an image from the moment he read Wednesday's newspapers.

But another, Brad Dunning, didn't think the expense was all that outrageous. "Geez, we actually have clients who have spent that much on small trash cans.... Italian designer leather or custom bronze can do much damage to a budget. I could easily spend even more than that if I wanted."

Armit, unfortunately, had one foot on a plane to London when she picked up the phone. But even if she had the time to sketch something, she said, the idea of a $2,200 trash basket was simply beyond her.

"I've worked for a vast amount of British royalty and they'd have shown me the door, and rightly so, for something like that," she said. "I've spent $200, $300, maybe six at the absolute max. But why would you put something that would have to be so well-crafted and ornate on the floor, at foot level, where someone could kick it over?"

"My rendition," she said, "is a blank page. Because it is simply beyond my imagination."

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