tv Forbes on Fox FOX Business July 23, 2017 7:00am-7:30am EDT
thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> a regular old dad... >> all he said was, "who's gonna buy something from bill wagner?" >> turned art scene heavyweight. >> he went from very clean-cut to start wearing brighter-colored shirts, and then his hair grew long. >> how important a name is he? >> there are no comparables. >> he leaves behind a puzzle. >> oh, the sun is shining. or it's an egg. are you sure these go together? >> it's always a mystery. >> this is all your dad's? >> it's a very small portion of the art that he produced. >> how do you handle an 8-ton inheritance? >> every single day, i've thought, "what am i going to do with it?" [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ]
♪ >> i'm jamie colby, and today, i'm driving in the san francisco bay area in benicia. i'm here to meet two brothers who wrote to me, saying they've inherited a pretty hefty haul. my mission -- to assess the gravity of their situation. >> my name is ron wagner. my father was bill wagner, one of the most prolific artists of his day. my brother and i realize that his art should never be judged by the pound, but the situation does weigh on us. >> i meet ron at his father's house here in benicia. hi, ron. i'm jamie. >> hi, jamie. it's nice to meet you. >> it's clear from the front porch that his dad was a creative and colorful guy. >> my dad painted every one of these tiles individually by hand. and there's lots more inside. >> yes, i'm coming inside. >> yes. >> suddenly, i'm surrounded by this strange inheritance. ron, the door was just a tease.
every room is covered in painted tiles. look at this! incredible! and that's just the beginning. his father's art studio is jam packed with thousands more. this is all your dad's? >> this is just a little bit, actually. he was very prolific. >> these are very beautiful. it looks like each one does tell a story. >> they do. >> stories about the life of bill wagner, who was born in 1923 in san francisco. his own murals tell his tale. you think he was born an artist? >> i think his artistry came from being whisked off to central america by a cantankerous father who had gold fever. >> his father never finds that gold, but the colorful misadventures will have a big impact on young bill's imagination. the family returns to california in 1934 to start again from scratch.
as a teenager, bill dreams of attending art school, but world war ii intervenes. he enlists in the army. d-day, june 6, 1944. >> he's in a boat. the conditions are horrible. the next thing he has to do is get off that boat and jump on a beach. >> not just any beach, normandy. >> normandy. he walked onto the beach and was immediately hit by a bomb. >> how close to death was he? >> very close. he was given the last rites three times. he remembered hearing the medics tell him that he wasn't going to make it. >> he's shipped back to a veterans' hospital in california. his recovery, slow and painful. >> he lost a kidney. he was almost paralyzed in one leg. >> he was flat on his back, dealing with pain, dealing with the medication. >> to cope with the trauma, bill turns to his passion. >> when he was in the hospital, he started sketching and drawing full-time.
>> he also finds love of another kind. >> that's where he met my mom, who used to come and tell him stories and read to him. >> the two are married in 1945, and start a family. bill finally gets around to taking those art classes and soon deploys his talents in the new medium of television. >> he was in charge of all of the costumes, all of the lighting, all of the set construction, going to work every day in a suit and tie, doing art, but still playing the company role. >> in the late 1970s, when bill is in his mid-50s, he quits his job, gets divorced and decides to become a full-time artist. he also changes his name to something more exotic. his longtime friend toni andrews tells me more. >> all he said was, "who's gonna buy something from bill wagner?" guillermo is bill in spanish. granizo is his mother's maiden name. and he says, "i'd buy something
from from guillermo granizo, but bill wagner, i don't know." >> how did his look change? >> he went from very clean-cut to start wearing brighter-colored shirts, and then his hair grew long. >> we used to call him the hippie. here i was with a suit and tie on, going to work, and he was going with a paintbrush to the canvas. >> make that paintbrush to terra cotta. inspired by mexican artists such as diego rivera, granizo devotes himself to painting ceramic tiles, an ancient art form. he comes up with his own techniques and secret recipes for his glazes. >> in some ways, this is liquid glass. and you can see that these glazes are very similar in color, so you really don't know what they're gonna turn out to be until you fire them. >> you're saying that, once in the kiln, can turn out and be as bright and beautiful as these? >> absolutely. they go from grays to bright colors. >> how did granizo know what color he was painting with?
it's not with his eyes, but his fingertips. >> got to the point where he could tell the color by just putting his hand in the glazes just by the thickness. so he'd say, "oh, these are greens. these are reds." and now we're gonna start laying in color by just squeezing this syringe. do you want to try it? >> i do want to try it, but, you know, when i used to color, i could never stay in the lines. this definitely takes time and patience, but after seeing the tile run through the kiln at 2,500 degrees, it's all worth it. wow! look how colorful it is! >> the colors have now been heated up, and they bring the full color to it. >> absolutely beautiful. >> and the process is his. it took him years and years to develop the steps. >> by the early '80s, the great granizo is about to truly arrive on the art scene, ready to make his mark. how important a name is he in ceramic art? >> in my way of thinking, there are no comparables.
>> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. what performing artist's real name is reginald kenneth dwight? elton john, jamie foxx, or vin diesel? the answer after the break. dear predictable, there's no other way to say this. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced. our senses awake. our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say...if you love something set it free. see you around, giulia [radi♪ alarm]
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for the record, jamie foxx's real name is eric bishop, and vin diesel's is mark vincent. ♪ >> in the late 1970s, bill wagner quits his 9-to-5, changes his name to guillermo granizo, and becomes a full-time artist. did he live and breathe art? >> yes, 100 percent. >> it was serious to him. he had to paint every single day. ♪ >> he would be in the studio from morning to night, and the whole basement was filled with his artwork. he was just prolific. >> what's so special about this art? >> the man first, the colors second. >> joe taylor is the founder of an organization for lovers of ceramic art, the tile heritage foundation. >> no doubt he was inspired by great artists like picasso, but everything that he created was totally original.
>> soon enough, the emerging artist is receiving high-profile commissions. by the early '80s, his murals are on display throughout california in napa, monterey, benicia and beyond. >> he always would make six paintings at once. >> incredibly, granizo never uses a sketch while painting his tiles or a blueprint when putting together his murals, many comprised of hundreds upon hundreds of tiles. >> and that, to me, is really one of the miracles of his artwork, the fact that he could conceive of what that whole was going to look like in his head. >> it's enough to make my head spin. >> we're going to try to assemble a pile of tiles that we really don't know if it was a painting, a portrait. want to help? >> i do want to help. well, that looks like a shoulder. oh, the sun is shining, or it's an egg.
can't tell. okay. don't help. >> okay. >> no, your head doesn't go on your elbow. are you sure these go together? >> it's always a mystery. >> could this be upside down? the man has no head. >> we need a head. >> oh, my! >> and it looks like we're gonna be looking for more tiles. >> now imagine you're in a cherry picker, assembling a mural about the size of a basketball court like this one in los angeles, 24 feet tall and 96 feet long. granizo creates it for the 1984 olympics. at the time, it's the largest tile mural in the world by a single artist. but square footage isn't the only thing that makes it so ambitious. >> what he did was incorporate every single sport in the world that he could on that mural. >> granizo hand-paints more than 2,200 tiles in just 10 weeks. >> and he did it by barely sleeping.
he had such a passion for doing this mural. he did it day and night. >> he's paid $96,000 for his time and materials. did every penny that would come in go out in supplies? >> yeah. but, you know, that's an artist. it's not for the money. it's for the love. >> soon, granizo's murals are on display around the world -- alaska, japan, spain, and everywhere in between. >> he would smile because he says, "i'm in 40 countries now." >> in 1993, at the age of 70, granizo is diagnosed with lymphoma. >> all he said was, "i've got some drawing to do, and i will beat this because i have no intention of dying." >> he remains defiant, even as his cancer spreads. >> dad, just before he passed, supplied himself with 12 years' worth of supplies. there are hundreds of gallon-buckets of glaze. he just never saw his death coming.
>> it comes as granizo finishes his final commission, a group of murals for the city of pleasanton, california. >> as we were installing that, he was sitting in a chair off to the side, literally dying. he only had a few weeks left to live. >> but when bill wagner passes away in november 1995 at age 72, he leaves behind much more than guillermo granizo's legacy of public art. there's also a massive body of private works. >> he has thousands of pieces. this is just a fraction of it. >> you weren't kidding. there's more. >> oh, yeah. >> along with a final request for his sons. fulfilling it will be a heavy lift. that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. what debuted as an olympic sport in the 1984 summer games in los angeles? wind surfing, softball or beach volleyball?
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♪ >> so what debuted as an olympic sport in the 1984 summer games? it's a, wind surfing. softball and beach volleyball arrived in 1996. ♪ >> master tile artist guillermo granizo created thousands of pieces each year. his art is still on display around the globe. after his death in 1995, his sons, ron and bob, inherit their father's vast store of private works. and there's a lot of it! >> this is just a fraction of it.
there's some more in here, too. >> you weren't kidding. there's more. check out these portraits. there are hundreds of them -- a man caught in the rain, a lonely smoker, and creatures of the night. >> you never know what you're gonna find. >> then there's that set of autobiographical murals. it starts with his childhood when he was traveling through mexico and guatemala. >> this one depicts a dream granizo had as a child. that's him riding a bike across the ocean with robinson crusoe showing him the way. and here's one of him on utah beach on d-day. >> barely made it alive and probably was why he did all this painting all of his life. >> there are 120 of them in all. there's even one that features ron and bob as kids. >> and then, finally, this is the culmination of his decision to be a creative person. >> it would have been a shame if he didn't pursue this, wouldn't it? >> absolutely.
>> the brothers find stack after stack, box after box, of tiles. some pieces are stand-alone, others, parts of unassembled murals. can you describe the enormity, size-wise, of this inheritance? >> the weight of it all is about 15,000 pounds. >> or nearly 8 tons of artwork. [ elephant trumpets ] do you ever wish there was a little less to inherit? >> the metaphor was, "talk about inheriting some heavy stuff." >> heavy stuff that comes with a hefty price tag. >> i had it appraised 21 years ago, and it was worth about $300,000 at the time. >> cha-ching, assuming the brothers are willing to sell off their dad's work in pieces, but that's an issue. did he tell you what he wanted you to do with all the ceramic tile art? >> one of the things that was always a concern was he never wanted the collections to be broken up. >> not knowing what to do,
ron and bob do nothing. painted tiles collect dust for the next 21 years. >> but every single day of those 21 years, i thought, "what am i gonna do with it?" >> one of the reasons why i delayed was because i just didn't want to be on the premises. it was sad. >> after ron retires in 2016, the brothers decide it's finally time to deal with the artwork. >> dad would never want these things to be in storage. the big deal is making sure his work endures, is shown, is appreciated. >> and they realize the only way to do that -- split up the tiles and get them into the hands of art lovers. but first, the brothers have to get it all out of dad's house. and with the murals weighing as much as 75 pounds each, that's a heavy burden. excuse me. i got this. come on. you can't lift these. is it bolted to the floor? let's call in the reinforcements. >> you go have a cup of coffee.
i'll take care of the rest. >> no problem. i'll just let the guys do the lifting. >> twenty-one years' worth of dirt and dust here. okay. there's three. >> only 65 more to go! [ chuckles ] >> yeah. i have to tell you, these are solid. they're not going anywhere. >> with the tiles loaded up and headed to ron's home, the brothers are ready to sell off their strange inheritance to the highest bidders. if only it were that simple. >> there is a big risk when you put artwork out on the market, and you don't know what you're doing. >> that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it! send me an e-mail or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com. copd makes it hard to breathe. so to breathe better, i go with anoro. ♪go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way." i say, "i'll go my own way" with anoro. ♪go your own way
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after granizo's death, his sons, ron and bob, are trying to sell the thousands of painted tiles they inherited from their dad. what makes you think there's a market for his unique style of ceramic tile art? >> we're trying to find out what the market is. neither one of us have sold art before. >> there is a big risk when you put artwork out on the market, and you don't know what you're doing. >> makayla van swoll is a fine art adviser who's helping ron and bob with their strange inheritance. >> you can burn an artwork, and you can definitely put your values at risk. >> granizo's private artwork was appraised for $300,000 20 years ago. but makayla tells the brothers that means little today. >> an appraisal is never fixed. it's just like the stock market. something could happen tomorrow, and poof, all of a sudden, it'll be highly valuable or not at all. it really depends on how the heirs decide to develop his estate.
>> she urges ron and bob to get their dad's name and artwork back into the public conversation. >> it will help them to reestablish a presence in the san francisco bay area, develop a market for the artist's work that hopefully will grow. >> the heirs begin to display his murals across the bay area, including at the benicia historical museum. >> they said they were going do an entire art gallery based around dad's work. >> they also make a deal for a book featuring granizo's private works. >> so the book seems to be the only way that it will be held as a collection forever. >> and they donate a favorite self-portrait of their dad to the city of pleasanton to be put on permanent display in the same park as their father's final commission. the mural is unveiled at a ceremony attended by city officials and friends of granizo. ♪ [ applause ]
>> this, to me, has been his memorial. so we're very proud to donate this. >> when he could not make his dedication 21 years ago, he sent ron and i to tell you, in his place, thank you. he would love it if we could get more of it out there for people to enjoy. >> and remember that dozen years' worth of supplies he ordered right before his death? they're not going to waste. >> there has never been a loss for people calling for his work, so with maybe 5,000 square feet of tile ready to be painted on, the kilns, all the glazes, we're gonna reopen the granizo studio and see what we can do. >> that's right. bob, an artist himself, is replicating his father's style and creating some new granizo-inspired tiles. >> how does it feel to be following dad's footsteps? >> i was apprehensive at first. really didn't want to walk back into the studio after years of missing him. it feels good now,
feels real good. >> it's one more step to ensure their father's legacy won't be forgotten. how does it make you feel when you know your father has art that's everlasting, really? >> oh, it's fabulous. he used to say, "it took 2,500 degrees to make this tile. at the end of the world, it may not be that hot. my art will be still standing." >> after completing this mural that depicts his near fatal injuries sustained on utah beach, granizo wrote, "suppose that there is heaven. would i go there since i give beauty to the world? yes. i would go to heaven, where an angel would bring me my tiles. a second would hand me my tools. another would mix buckets of glaze, and still another would rush the tiles to hell, where they would be fired." here's hoping the great artist is still busy painting tiles and working the kiln. i'm jamie colby.
thanks so much for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> ♪ we're all so beautiful ♪ you're so sexy >> what not to wear... >> ♪ work it, work it >> ...and who wore it best? [ indistinct shouting ] >> hollywood's first fashion cop... >> i said she looks like prince valiant in a panty girdle. >> ...catches stars in his dragnet. >> the worst-dressed list caused more of a fury than anything that i can remember. >> now his heir wants success for the dress. >> you know what, harlan? let's let them get into their underwear. >> what?! >> what?! >> ...and have a look. >> ♪ work it [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ]