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Hibernating Actor Uncovered on Antiques Roadshow
October 1, 2132
MALIBU--A Malibu, California woman was surprised to learn Friday during a taping of PBS's popular Antiques Roadshow that an unusual wardrobe stored for more than fifty years in her aunt's attic is in fact a high-tech, bio-preservation chamber containing hibernating television actor David Schwimmer. "I'm as shocked as anyone," exclaims the woman. "I have no idea where [my aunt] would have gotten something like this. I doubt she even knew what she had."
Clad in an ornate, hand-crafted shell featuring inlaid Brazilian hardwoods and cultivated coral, the chamber, designed to blend seamlessly with home decor of the era, includes a self-sealing ceramic 'sarcophagus' in which the owner could 'hibernate' in a specially designed biotic bath. "These 'wardenberths', or 'warders', served both an aesthetic and a practical purpose," explains Leonard Especiale, Managing Director of Sotheby's and a frequent guest appraiser on the Roadshow. "Not only were they beautiful and unique works of furniture, but they also enabled their owners to wait out career downturns and lengthy legal or contractual entanglements."
Based around a directed, contained biosphere dedicated to preservation and age-retardation, the wardenberth is filled with a bath of distilled, oxygenated water in which the user is suspended. Donning an engineered, skin-tight mesh of high-sensitivity ciliates and human-grade Pfiesteria, owners can, in principle, survive indefinitely. "These are highly-tuned biosystems," notes Dr. Magda Himmelblau of the Florida Institute of Technology. "They can survive on virtually no input. Slight temperature differences across the surface of the chamber generate enough Brownian motility in the bath to stimulate the ciliates, and the whole system is built up from there. It's fragile, but, as long as the thing is otherwise completely contained--completely cut off--it can carry on indefinitely."
Brought to the Malibu Convention Center for appraisal by the Roadshow's experts, the Schwimmer wardenberth immediately drew the interest of Danielle Passim, an expert on celebrity furniture and toiletries. "I saw the inlaid portrait of [Schwimmer] on the front panels and knew right away that here was an important find," recalls Passim. "Then, I started to look more closely, and, when I realized that he was inside, my heart just leapt into my throat. I've seen a number of warders like this, but never with a real, live occupant still inside. More often than not curious owners have disturbed the chamber, unintentionally decimating the value of the piece. This one is intact. A rare find. A real treasure."
Asked about the provenance of the unusual piece, the current owner recalled having seen it in her aunt's attic as a child, but could offer few other clues. "She was a bit of a pack rat," recounts the owner. "She loved to go to estate sales and flea markets. My guess is that she would have picked it up in one of those places. It always sort of fascinated me as a kid, but, to tell you the truth, I don't think I ever really talked to her about what it was or where she got it."
Wardenberth containing Hibernating Television Actor, $12,000-$17,000.
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