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Artsy High Jinks

Tim Tate
Artist Tim Tate triumphantly holds up his rocket after paying the $10,000 ransom in Monopoly bills. (Amy Argetsinger -- The Washington Post)

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"I'm The Collector! I'm The Collector!" he shouted. Dazed, we fumbled for the camera as he jumped up and down and shouted something else, and for a second it seemed he might actually linger to have his picture snapped. But then he vanished into the night. Still dazed, we realized he'd grabbed Tate's manila folder of money and left behind another package.

Inside: Tate's rocket, minus its glass cocoon. And a note.

"Only through the loss of art does society value its art," it began. "This is not the end but the beginning. Whenever art is undervalued the collector will appear to remind this city that one of its most valuable assets is the creative community that is so deeply ingrained in its fabric."

Get the feeling this isn't the last we've heard of The Collector?

Tate laughed as he folded the letter. "Probably an Artomatic freak," he said (though later we agreed we'd really like to meet him). "Oh, I'm so happy to have my rocket back."

Artomatic organizers said yesterday that Tate's new sculpture, made from the remains of the old, will be auctioned over their Web site this weekend, with proceeds to support the show.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

Lance Armstrong getting a kitchen tour at the Blue Duck Tavern before he and a half-dozen friends were whisked back to a secluded table for dinner Tuesday night. The cycling champ (jeans and black, partially unbuttoned shirt) dined on foie gras, short ribs and french fries cooked in duck fat -- hmmm, must not be in training anymore. Was in town for a Cap Hill news conference yesterday on early cancer detection.

THIS JUST IN . . .

Ana Marie Cox has been dismissed from the nasty "Washingtonienne lawsuit." Robert Steinbuch added the former Wonkette blogger to his claim of invasion of privacy against former trystee Jessica Cutler, but Judge Paul Friedman took Cox off the hook yesterday on statute of limitations grounds -- saying, basically, it was too late to drag her into the suit two years after the fact. "We're delighted," said Cox's lawyer, Charles Both.


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