November 11, 2002
10:06 AM   Subscribe

An L.A. restaurateur just won a rare 2-pound mushroom in an annual "charity truffle auction" in Santa Monica. The winner paid $35,000 for the truffle after a fierce bidding war between a New York-based restaurant owner and Gunther IV, who placed his bids through a subsidiary due to the fact that he is, in fact, a dog. The canine heir to a vast German fortune lost the auction, and the honor of placing the highest recorded bid ever for a mushroom. Go ahead, read it again. This is all, mind you, before anyone actually got their hands on the giant 'shroom.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (42 comments total)
I can't stop thinking about this story. It's like the mental equivalent of hitting a brick wall. I'm reading this story and my brain just stops working.

I'm reminded of that Lewis Black routine about "If it's weren't for my horse I never would have spent that last year in college." You just can't think about this for more than a few minutes before blood starts to shoot out of your nose. Mushroom auctions? 2 pounds? What the hell is a dog doing with a German inheritance? What did the other three Gunthers get? Why the hell is a goddamn dog BIDDING ON TRUFFLES? FUCK!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:12 AM on November 11, 2002

Some info on Gunther, aka The Material Dog. Seems he has a penchant for more than mushrooms.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:19 AM on November 11, 2002

I can't think of truffles without being reminded of Isabel Allende's recipe for Reconciliation Soup. That shroom should be turned into truffle oil, so more than a 100 practicers of conspicuous consumption could enjoy its majesty.
posted by machaus at 10:24 AM on November 11, 2002

If I was a millionaire dog I would buy a giant mushroom. They're much easier to bury than that last Merc which is sitting in the backyard half covered in dirt...
posted by PenDevil at 10:26 AM on November 11, 2002

You know, that money could've paid for me to go to grad school. And then some. Bastards.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2002

"We will start the bidding at $500"


"The canine in the back bids $600"

tRUFFle! tRUFFle! tRUFFle!
posted by Stan Chin at 10:30 AM on November 11, 2002

Thirty truffles were auctioned off for a total of $126,000.

All local proceeds from the sale benefit the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation at University of California, Los Angeles, and the families of 26 Italian schoolchildren who were killed in a recent earthquake.

It nice to see a nice follow up to a terrible tragedy.

a dog named Gunther IV, heir to a large German fortune, whose bids were made by owner Maurizio Dial

Wait the owner, Maurizio Dial, is this some tax shelter deal? Common the dog has an owner so wouldn't the owner of the dog be also the owner of a large German fortune?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:31 AM on November 11, 2002

Well, it did go to charity Ufez. I figure, it's pretty damn amusing to win a huge mushroom from a super-rich German dog named Gunther as long as the proceeds go to something good. I could totally see doing this if I were super-rich.

This is so much cooler than that insufferable 'long bets' thing other rich people do.
posted by josh at 10:35 AM on November 11, 2002

Everyone has to check out the page that madamjujujive linked...

Thus, Gunther and the other dogs of the group's whole life and training are oriented towards the achievement of joy, pleasure, amusement and improvement of their sexual activity. Recall that Gunther and the other dogs were originally chosen because of their spontaneous inclination towards these types of behavior.
Another element which the experts believe is necessary in order to raise the quality of a dog's life is for the dog to live without a specific "owner." Rather, the animal should live together with young euphoric people. These youngsters should be as dynamic, joyful and clever as possible. The experts contend that the company of young, joyful and sexually very active people operates to increase the drive, mood, alertness and other cerebral processes of the dog which in turn generates its happiness and, ultimately, better psychological health. Additionally, the company of these youngsters "pleases" the dog and brings him to fulfillment

posted by cell divide at 10:36 AM on November 11, 2002

I was just going to past that cell... but damn, what the hell is that? my head exploded 3 times reading that page. I think it must have been started by a cult with the goal of being reincarnated as a dog....
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:38 AM on November 11, 2002 "This WEB SITE will intentionally not be maintained from an aesthetical, technical or formal point of view. There will not even be any special or good-looking graphical effects. The beauty of the site will exist in the gorgeousness of its human and animal protagonists. The delight and enjoyment of the viewer observing this site will come from the happiness and pleasure- oriented lifestyle depicted in its contents."

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2002

So if you a millionaire dog with a team of young vigorous servants to please you, would you still lick your own balls?

I'm asking God this when I get to heaven.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2002

This is maybe the strangest thing in the entire world. Ever.

It's like the real-life transcription of a Daniel Pinkwater novel.

Did everyone see the bronzed twentysomethings who frolic with Gunther IV, pursuing pleasure and sex? Like a mysterious Greek cult, they are known as the Burgundians. Inquiries should be made through "Messrs. Dupuch & Turnquest & Co Chambers", and there's a secrecy-veiled website that requires login/password for access. Anyone got BruteForce handy?

Absolutely fascinating.
posted by Marquis at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2002

Heaven? I'm asking God to send me back as Gunther V!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:54 AM on November 11, 2002

XQUZYPHYR, that Lewis Black skit is the perfect way to describe the effect of this article. Wow. Mind blowing.
posted by mariko at 11:02 AM on November 11, 2002

From the dog's site:

Additionally, the company of these youngsters "pleases" the dog and brings him to fulfillment.

posted by probablysteve at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2002

Gunther IV evidently really likes truffles; he made an earlier unsuccessful truffle bid back in 2001 (last item on the page). However, The Museum of Hoaxes has pondered whether Gunther is really all that, in a blurb that has him winning the 2001 truffle... or was this yet another truffle? Should we call this thread "The Trouble with Truffles"?
posted by taz at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2002

You make it sound like a chore, Stan!
posted by picea at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2002

I'm just saying if I had five bronzed-twentysomethings who's job was to lick my balls, I probably wouldn't go through the hassle of licking my own balls like those less fortunate do.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2002

Has anyone asked mr_crash_davis' opinion?
posted by taz at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2002

Where's the scandal, XQUZ?

Would you be that surprised by a very expensive caviar auction?
Truffles, or tartufi bianchi d'Alba, are indeed very rare and much more difficult to find than caviar (which essentially is Iranian fish's eggs)

Tartufi are a delicacy, and you should try a little grated tartufo on your risotto. Obscene price? Yes, but vintage wines cost more than that. You can use a 2.2 pound tartufo for many, many, dishes, remember you eat tiny slivers of it, lightly grated on food.

Here you can see a truffle shaver

This is the Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco official website
posted by matteo at 11:49 AM on November 11, 2002

Of course the dog part of the story _is_ very weird

But hands off the tartufo bianco!
posted by matteo at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2002

Hey Taz, did you get that title from a children's book called "Trouble for Trumpets?" If so...that book totally kicked ass.

BTW--its really sad that Gunther the Dog is more financially secure and enjoys a better social life than any of us (I'm assuming)
posted by pjgulliver at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2002

Look, here's a picture of Gunther walking his woman. I wonder why he makes her dress like that...
posted by xiffix at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2002

Actually, caviar is the eggs of many, many different fish. However, the most rare and prized caviar is from Caspain Sea sturgeon. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and habitat loss the caviar is becoming harder to obtain.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2002

pjgulliver - no, unfortunately. Much less literay...
posted by taz at 12:20 PM on November 11, 2002

this has to be some kind of sick, twisted joke.


*ecstatic dog howls in the distance*

posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:23 PM on November 11, 2002

Ah yes, trouble with tribbles. That was my first Star Trek experience, via an animated version of it on that old Star Trek cartoon they showed on Nick when I was a kid.

As too "Trouble for Trumpets", it is, unfortunately, out of print now. But it is the best illustrated children's book every written (well, there was a little hyperbole in that statement, but its really really good. The kids will love it!)
posted by pjgulliver at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2002

could you make it as a Burgundian? is it a good career move? assuming you managed to get 'selected', could you bend your head around the fact that you were in the employ of a dog? your 'job' description - be young and euphoric. web design skills *not* required.
In other news; the Burgundians battle the Armagnacs for control of France. In England, this would be Lagerites vs. Bittermen.
And truffles taste of gas, IMHO. Well, they taste of the smell that they put with natural gas so that you can smell it. Which makes me wonder what they use to make the gas smell, assuming it isn't truffle oil?
So to conclude, a dog that lives a fairytale existence failed to buy a 2-pound gassy mushroom. I wonder if it is some homeopathic cure for flatulence in dogs?
posted by asok at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2002

I'm scared.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:02 PM on November 11, 2002

I was doing fine reading the article and this thread until I got to this phrase:

super-rich German dog named Gunther

And that's when peach Snapple came out of my nose. But I've got to say, Gunther's a cute little pooch. If he ever gets tired of long-legged blondes doing his bidding, he could come live with me and my not-at-all-rich American/French/Chinese dogs Casey and Bones. I'd even feed him truffles now and again with his Iams.

And truffles taste of gas, IMHO. Well, they taste of the smell that they put with natural gas so that you can smell it.

I'm sorry, Asok. You've obviously been served some skunky truffles. I've never tasted a natural gas flavoured truffle.

Which makes me wonder what they use to make the gas smell, assuming it isn't truffle oil?

Google knows all and it's not truffle oil.

I wonder if it is some homeopathic cure for flatulence in dogs?

A low-fat, limited-fibre diet.
posted by Dreama at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2002

Ridiculous canines aside, am I alone in my snobbish jealousy of the owner of that truffle? Mmmmmm. I ate at Alain Ducasse here in New York earlier this year, and to advertise their "truffle tasting menu" (to the tune of about $250 a person- we declined), they brought out a wooden box with three or four fist-sized black truffles. They completely reeked up our table, but in a completely blissful way.

To put the price in perspective, Dean & Deluca sells an ounce of white truffles for $240. No, it still doesn't add up to $35k for two pounds, but that's ego for ya.

The dog, though... whoa...
posted by mkultra at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2002

I think asok's right, truffles have a distinct smell-taste of something akin to the rubbery, petroleum-like natural gas aroma. I've eaten them a few times, fresh and in oil, they can't all have been skunky. I think they're one of those tastes which you love, hate or acquire.

And Gunther needs some obedience training, then again, if you're a millionaire dog, I guess it's acceptable to be the walker, rather than the walkee.
posted by biscotti at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2002


I think they're one of those tastes which you love, hate or acquire.

Close. Truffles are one of those nasty food items like caviar and foie gras that people with more money than sense insist are wonderful because they are absurdly expensive. Fools and their money and all that.

To paraphrase Harlan Ellison: If poo-poo becomes popular, than shit will be sold in six packs.

On the other hand, you can't really blame the dog. Canines don't understand the concept of money.
posted by mark13 at 3:21 PM on November 11, 2002

Truly frightening.
I wonder if Gunther ever goes slumming in the backyard digging for bones and rolling around in cow crap like a normal dog.
On second thought, probably not. He has "trustees" for that sort of thing.
posted by ChaosKitty at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2002

Dreama - 'A low-fat, limited-fibre diet.'

mushrooms seem to comply with these requirements. ; )

i hope i haven't put anyone off truffles. it was just something a friend once said to me, ever since it's been true.
while it is possible that the truffles we had were funky, i must profess that they were fresh truffle ravioli made in an italian restaurant in italy before my eyes.
posted by asok at 5:05 PM on November 11, 2002

I love the guestbook page on gunther's site:

Dear Gunther, I am a 4-year old chessie. I think you are really cute. Please write. Love Bailey p.s. This is not about your money
posted by luyon at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2002

I keep thinking that truffles must taste of stewwed not knowing what natural gas is supposed to smell like all I can think of is the cabbagey smell of propane instead. If that 's the case I will just stick to stewwed cabbage thank you very much.
posted by SweetIceT at 8:11 PM on November 11, 2002

What I would do to eat a plain risotto with some of that truffle on it.. oh god...

Before you judge this, do take note that truffles are one of the most exotic and expensive food items in the world. And they taste DAMN good. If you're lucky enough to get your teeth on any, make sure you do! When I become a multi gazillionaire, you can bet I'll be buying some huge truffles, fat tunas, fat livered geese, and fat kobe beef. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...
posted by swank6 at 8:54 PM on November 11, 2002

Having been a long time friend and confidant of Gunthers I -> III, I can say that Gunther IV in no way represents what it really, truly means to be a Burgundians. All that sleeping around and laying about ... he really has let it all go. Gunther's I through III took an long and active interest in the day-to-day affairs of their powerful assetts in the dog-food industry and tourism. I remember the time Gunther II and I flew to Spain in order to concince a high executive in IBM to cross over to Gunthercorp. Such was his resolve, Gunther didn't give in, humping the young IBM employee's leg until he'd come across. But Gunther IV is so different, so lavish, I wouldn't be surprised if he pissed all the money up a tree.
posted by Neale at 9:23 PM on November 11, 2002

Gunther III: "Apres moi, le deluge."
posted by yhbc at 9:28 PM on November 11, 2002

I think truffles are overrated tastewise. I get a similarly pungent experience with garlic without depleting my purse. But the "look what I can afford" side of it is the real kick for most truffle lovers.

And what about this G√ľnter dog crap? He's supposed to be sexually very active. But with whom? The blondes? Looks like one more heir of a dirty publishing house to me.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 1:09 AM on November 12, 2002

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