Glenn’s staff ruins irreplaceable fishbowl hand painted and autographed by Orson Welles

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Every morning, Glenn gathers his producers into his office in Dallas (NY joins via video chat) and lays out his plans for the day. Usually its a pretty uneventful, but today Glenn stopped mid-sentence, walked across the room going “Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no!” before picking up a fishbowl calling out for his assistant Julie. The producers were silent, wondering why Glenn was suddenly freaking out over a fishbowl. And then he revealed that it was signed by his hero Orson Welles, but someone had washed it and the signature was all but gone.

“This is a 50 cent fish bowl.  It’s cheap.  It was from about 1940s.  Yesterday it wasn’t a 50 cent fish bowl,” he explained on radio.

“I was the winner of an auction.  You know I’m buying American collectibles and things like that and I was in a ‑‑ I was in an auction for several things.  One of them was the original typewriter that Orson Welles used to type Citizen Kane. Lost that one.  Lost that one in a big way.  Big way.  I bailed on that one fast.  But I did get from his estate originally sold in 1992 a fish bowl that had been hand‑painted by Orson Welles and signed by Orson Welles,” he explained.

“I won this auction about a month ago. I got it yesterday and I put it on my desk.”

“I put it on my desk yesterday thinking, you know, I’ll look at it tomorrow.  You know how I feel about Orson Welles.  We named Mercury after ‑‑ my company’s named after his company.  So I thought, this is really cool.  I’m glad to have the fish bowl.”

“So here’s what happened.  We have somebody who cleans our offices who is ‑‑ I can’t be pissed at her because here’s somebody who wants to go above and beyond.  Here’s somebody who wants to do the right thing, somebody who saw a fish bowl that looks like it hadn’t been cleaned since 1940. And took it in and washed it. Scrubbed, scrubbed the signature, scrubbed all the little fishies, scrubbed it all.”

“Nobody even had a chance to even look at it yesterday.  Oh, those days don’t come back.  That opportunity doesn’t come back,” he said.

While Glenn has collected tons of historical memorabilia, the fishbowl had a special significance because of Glenn’s admiration for Orson Welles. From a business and creative standpoint, Welles stands up there with Walt Disney in Glenn’s heroes in the arts.

“You know what?  Honestly it was a filthy fish bowl and she took the time, she looked at it and she was like, I’ve got to clean that.  Now, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.  When she was scrubbing Orson Welles’ art off of it and she was scrubbing that signature, ‘I just can’t get that thing that looks like Orrin Walls or something, I can’t get that off.'”

“I want to know how it died.  That’s what I want to know.  Did it die a quick death?  Did she ‑‑ was she just trying to clean the inside and then when she was drying it all of the artwork came off of the front and she was like, ‘Oh, crap?'”

Glenn joked that in addition to the fishbowl, he was worried that the old newspapers on his desk – including some announcing the Emancipation Proclamation – got thrown out in the same cleaning effort.

But at the end of all the jokes – Glenn admitted that he felt bad because this one-of-a-kind piece of history has been lost due to his own incompetence. Rather than locking it up or putting it somewhere safe, Glenn just left it on his desk.

“I feel bad honestly. This is the worst part of it. I feel bad because it cannot be replaced.”

“Let this be a lesson to me of not leaving dirty things on my desk. If I have something that’s historic (value) I should treat it (as such) – not leave it on my locked office on my desk,” Glenn said.

  • Pauline Brason

    bummer, good sport though glenn

  • landofaahs

    Send it to the liberal press Glenn and attach a note which reads “Here is a new fish bowl you can live in.  It should be large enough to hold what is left of you in a couple of years”.

  • snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

    Glenn this is a lesson to be learned by all people; while the treasures we gather about us for the sake of history and lesson, all can be lost by the smallest of actions or a moment of inatttention carried out by another. Thus your Orson Wells fishbowl went into the night as a treasure, and the historical papers you speak of should, when not absolutly needed, be kept in the vault.

    Chalk it up as a lesson learned. One all of us can draw upon.

    • Marie Gray

      Glenn is too good, I would have fired the cleaning person, he or she lacks common sense. How could some see some so extraordinarily and dirty in Glenn’s dask and not ask the question why? Does Gleen keep filty thisng on his desks all the time? I think not. This person ought to be fired.

      • Anonymous

        Really Marie??!! We have all made mistakes in our lives. Who are we to judge?? Life is too short so enjoy the ride!

      • Anonymous

        Thats pretty harsh Marie.  Glenn, Just sign the bowl and one day it will be worth more than what you bought it for.  You are on the tip of the spear sir.

      • Jeffrey Herbert

        Good Heavens! I hope you’re being sarcastic. I wish my children would so “lack common sense” that they willingly cleaned everything in sight.

        • Jessica

          Amen Jeffrey! After your kids lose their common sense and start cleaning, will you send them to my house to help them lose theirs? he he he

      • Amy Holland Nix

        Really, Marie?  Remind me never to work for you.  Wow.

    • landofaahs

      Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  lol

    • Amy Holland Nix

      Exactly.  Things, even to history buffs like me who get sentimental about books and oddments that represent people or events and whatnot, are never as important as people and relationships.  This story about the fishbowl and the overzealous cleaning lady is epic and a history all on its own.  This woman who cleans Glenn’s office is more important than a fishbowl…no matter who painted it.  Glenn recognizes that and has the class to laugh at himself (and her) because he is a decent man with his priorities in order.

      • snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

        Amy – true on all points; I would love to see Glenns work on the fishbowl.

  • Rick Elmore

    I’ll give ya about… TREE FIDDY!

  • landofaahs

    Glenn, what kind of dummies do you hire, that would clean that off?  Sorry to offend someone, but that was bone-headed.

  • Mike Lane

    It would appear that the Obama administration did the same thing to morals and values as your cleaning lady did to the fish bowl.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that Glenn likes Orson Welle  since he was a supporter of Roosevelt and a huge supporter of progressive politics.

    Sad to lose an archive of a great creative spirit, but an accident is an accident.  I bet she feels terrible now her mistake has been made public, hopefully she won’t take any mean comments to heart.    

  • Anonymous

    Glenn….Next time put the fish bowl in the temperature and alarm controlled box that you got the super secret historical artifact for Restoring Love Event debut.

  • Chris McConnell

    Glenn…perhaps it was meant to be.

    I understand the joy it brought you but it still was a fishbowl.

    At least you can HONESTLY FEEL GREAT ABOUT your cleaning staff..feel joyful that they are working hard…even when you are not watching.

    —The Real Deal from Chris Steele —

  • tracie kruse

    Man! I just wish our cleaning crew was as thorough as yours Glenn….thank your lucky stars….

    • Flora Anderson

      Chalk it up as a lesson learned. One all of us can draw upon.

      • Anonymous

        SPAM ALERT   Flag this.   Go away Flora and take your spam with you.

    • Anonymous

      i wish we had a cleaning crew to clean our white-house out of all the dirty communists!!

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh, the mistakes that are made in the name of good intentions. 

    Use this as a learning tool, Glenn.  You know, along the lines of how that cleaning person had good intentions and the best of hearts when she did what she did.  Kind of like a lot (if not all) of our so-called social programs.  Social Security started out with good intentions, as did welfare and so many other things.  Now those good intentions have put us in a box that it appers no one is brave enough to get us out of.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your treasure. But a part of me hears Orson Welles chuckling — grin!

  • Debra

    I would not want to be the cleaning lady right about now, she has got to feel mortified!   It’s one thing to make a mistake but to have it broadcast to the world *oy*  I hope both of you can recover!  Who knows, perhaps the bowl might become a teaching tool and even more valuable than it was before!

  • Anonymous

    Beck paid $686.Fishbowl $686 Current BiddingMinimum Bid:$100Final Bid(Includes Buyers Premium):$686

  • Mike Raystrum

     Throw in a signed copy of your new book and we can bid on it. I can keep M&M’s in it…

  • Tom

    Oh ouch… Google search for “Orson Welles fish bowl image” provides a link a few lines down from that auction.  Glenn paid $686 for this thing… and now it’s worthless!  Ouch.   Freaking ouch.

  • Anonymous

    At the very least it looked like children’s artwork and any cleaning person in their right mind should have left it alone. Perhaps it is time to make sure all cleaning people wear the glasses they need.

  • VoterTags

    Give her a raise for going above and beyond today so you can feel good about firing her next week for destroying a prized treasure.

  • Right Fielder

    Whale of a FAIL.

  • Anonymous

    Well Glenn what did you expect, you left it out in the open as if it weren’t of any value and so someone treated it as some old dirty piece of glassware. I too have lots of collectibles and I treat them as if they are gold and keep them in a safe place. I wouldn’t dare leave them for other people to handle……not even my husband!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Glenn from the looks of it….. I think Orson Welles re purposed an over head kitchen or bathroom light shade……. it’s got that thick lip in just the right place for the screws to hold it on a light……… probably a good idea to put anything of historic value locked in a display case……
    I have my own tale of creative destruction of an antique….. I had a nice Mission style book case not long after getting married and moving into our home my wife decided to surprise me ….. she painted it PINK! …… Like you I knew she meant well so I did not let on about the damage she had done….. a year or so later we were watching the Antiques Roadshow and she saw a book case in it’s original finish and heard what it was worth…… She looked at me and said I guess I screwed up painting it…. I said yeah….. she asked why I hadn’t said anything at the time?  I told her the damage was already done she thought she had done good and I loved her more than a piece of furniture .

    • Anonymous

      You’re a good fellow, Kabar.

    • Anonymous

      You, sir, are an excellent role model as a husband. Actually, as a human being in general.

      To all of those people who are saying things like, “She probably can’t read or speak English”: you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Stop acting like ignorant bigots. I was under the impression that the people who like Mr. Beck are above such childish behavior. Leave the ignorant speech to the Left Wingnuts, please.

      Mr. Beck, I am glad that you did not reprimand your cleaning lady. She obviously was doing her best to do her job well. I am sorry that you lost the part of the fish bowl that made it so special to you, but remember what the Lord said about being attached to worldly possessions:
      “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
      But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Matt 6:19-20 KJV

      I’m not suggesting that you take a vow of poverty, as I’m sure some smart alec is going to try to spin my post to be. I am simply saying that we put too much *value* on items. The people who say they would have fired the cleaning lady- why? For doing her job, and trying to do it very well for her employer?

      Matthew continues on to say, “No man can serve two masters… Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Matt 6:24

      Too many people misquote the Gospel when talking about wealth. The verse has been twisted around over generations to the popular saying, “Money is the root of all evil”. That is NOT correct.
      “For the LOVE OF money is the root of all evil,” 1 Tim 6:10 (It is not capitalized in the Bible; I did that for emphasis.)

      Perhaps this was a lesson from the Lord Jesus Christ that we ALL need to put more value on our faith in God & our interpersonal relationships and less value on *things*?

      Just my humble opinion.

    • Lioness

      I was thinking the same thing about the light fixture/fish bowl. I have the same type of covers in one of my old apartment houses. What you did for your wife was very sweet:)

  • Melanie Clark

    Glenn, you are so understanding.  Gotta love you.

  • Jen McGahan

    But see now the fishbowl has a double story…Someone will be bidding on that (clean) bowl again some day. 

    • Kevin Laprade

       Or actually a triple story kind of Jen! lol

  • Anonymous

    The fault lies with Glenn all the way. Paying $686 for a fishbowl should be protected like the treasure it was. Leaving a dirty bowl on top of your desk only invites the cleaner to clean the office as usual. The maid did a good job!

  • Lee Sullivan

    I’m sure Glenn your heart is on the floor.  You are too kind.

  • Norma Delgado

    Material things come and go.  Be thankful for what you have.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot work for you Glenn..I am always thorough…my house is clean and neat…even at work I am very detailed…a very important “skill” in my kind of work that is why my boss considers me an asset…

  • Anonymous

    Aw crap. 
    That sucks. 
    Sorry Glenn.

    Something else will show up, truly.

  • Anonymous

    2 Peter 3:10. Sorry Glenn. :/ Keep it in perspective: It’s all going to burn in the end anyway. None of this stuff will last when God lays the planet bare and restores it. “But the day of
    the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will
    pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent
    heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

  • Anonymous

    she more than likely can’t read english had no idea who it was i bet…

  • Anonymous

    glenn, that’s a candy dish.  fill it with cry babies — you won’t regret it.  get them at the dollar store.

    AND maybe you should’n’t have people in your office who you do not know.  after all, you’re glenn beck.

  • Jefferson Tester

    You’re one in a million, Glenn. You didn’t fire her or make a spectacle of her. You turned her mistake into a compliment and shouldered the fault of it. While this isn’t always the way out of a situation (example: Obama apologizing for the US), in a case like this where you, specifically, lost something that had that much personal value, it takes a strong person to see it merely as a stroke of misfortune, find a way to see something positive about it and move on. I might disagree with you on occasion, but little things like this are why I feel I can trust that you are a person of  merit. Thank you for validating my opinion of you once again. 

    • Amy Holland Nix

      Honestly, though, it wasn’t her mistake.  How was she supposed to know?  She saw a dirty item and probably just ran it through the dishwasher.  The mistake was not leaving a note on it, which he already said in the article.  Just pointing out that it doesn’t make Glenn special that he didn’t rant and storm; it makes him a regular good person.  Someone who tried to take this unfortunate story and make it the housekeeper’s fault…would be a giant jerk.

      • Jeffery Scism

        Scenario, A dirty object is on the desk, it wasn’t there yesterday. Do you wash it? Or do you  put a note on it that say “Do you want me to clean this?” and wait for the NEXT day? MOST cleaning people will take method 2.

  • Irina Krasnyuk

    Ok, now reset.

  • William W

    Come on folks!  It is only an object.  Collecting objects bring us joy, but in the end they are only objects.  Treating others with dignity is of far more value as a treasure than a broken or damaged object.  I have a hope and confidence that Glenn Beck recognizes that reality.

  • Anonymous

    The real problem is the person that trained her.  This never should of happened.  Empty the trash, pickup dirty coffee cups, snickers wrappers, leave the rest alone unless specifically told other wise. All the hell raising the the world won’t bring it back, but this is a tragedy. 

  • Anonymous

    I know it’s a sad event to have lost the signature and the little hand-painted on fish, but at least you still have the bowl, Glenn. You still have the knowlege that Orson Welles owned it. I hope that can be enough.

  • Texas

    GB you have a good heart.

  • FedUp2010

    Cleaning crews are “BONDED.”  Report the $$$ Loss and the insurance will reimburse you for your loss.  Unfortunately, the artwork & history are LOST.

    Orson Welles surviving Artwork, worldwide has now increased in value due to the lost artifact.  You have a great story to tell your grandkids! 

    And, some how, if Orson Welles was still around, he would be amused at the value placed on his “Doodles.”  Sorry for your lost.

  • Anonymous

    More evidence that art classes, especially art appreciation, needs to be put back in the schools. Get you son to paint some new images so in time and along with your fame, it should be worth something again.

  • Anonymous

    The fish bowl was still Orson Wells’ fishbowl.  That’s gotta be worth something!  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 
    But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (or cleaning ladies clean)  Matthew 6:19-20.

  • Anonymous

    Aw, that really is too bad.  A hard lesson to learn.  Sorta like the old joke of a woman baking

    a cake for the P.T.A., going away to change her clothes and returning to find her husband had

    just finished eating a big slice of it.  What to do?    In that case, I would cut the cake into in-

    dividual slices and wrap each one separately—presuming this was for a cake sale.

    Then deal with the husband when I returned home.  Nothing lethal, but we would be enjoying a

    nice dinner out with a baby sitter for the kids.      As for the fishbowl, do the kids like goldfish?

  • Anonymous

    I never said it would be easy…I just said it would be worth it……You are practicing what you preach Glenn. Many years ago you would have reacted differently, as I would have too.  Your a good example of how we should react to things that go bad. Lesson learned. Your a good man Glenn. I feel honored to have met you several times.

  • Anonymous

    Although the specifics of Matt. 6:19-21 don’t apply, the spirit does.  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth……….

  • frank


  • frank


  • Glenn Recommends

    Orson Welles wouldn’t have kept it in a dirty state. Your cleaning lady Restored It to its full glory and left some space for you to add another drawing to it. 

  • Dick Douglas

    I just hope she doesn’t go down in history and daily remarks as the ‘fishbowl lady.’ What i know of Glenn, she probably was a person who needed a job and otherwise does a good job.

  • Anonymous

    That is one nice fish bowl.  oh so clean.  wonder what she used to clean it with?  Glenn, it is merely a material object.  Perhaps you paid a large sum.  However, this incident has shed New light on people who did Not know about Orson Welles and your admiration for him.
    I suggest this can be a great learning experience about a man who influenced your life so strongly.  keep sharing what you have learned from him and that will be the BEST legacy.  

  • Earl Vordenberg


  • Anonymous

    Glenn, I am glad you kept it in perspective. I don’t care whose signature was on the bowl or how much money it was worth because in the end it’s just a fish bowl. You obviously realize people are more important then things, especially their feelings.

  • Anonymous

    I can relate, I sell very old and unusual things (some one of a kind) on ebay and go to Auctions and Estate sales to purchase them. I would have been mortified.  I once bought a  perfect 1930’s pink depression water pitcher and when I was loading things into the car it fell out onto the pavement and shattered, granted it was only around $18.00 and not thousands, but I learned a lesson and moved on.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s how it looked originally:

  • Anonymous

    Glenn you should of put the fishbowl in a LIberty Safe!

  • David Edward Carpenter

    So now Glenn needs to buy a goldfish or turtle and name him Orson and keep him on his desk as a living reminder of this life lesson.

  • new2la

    That will teach you to encase in glass things of importance….oh….the youth and their lessons!
    You didn’t fire her, did you?

  • Scott Weaver

    Glenn, when handed lemons……….paint it yourself, sign it, auction it. You can called it “the former painted fish bowl signed by Orson Wells” now painted and signed by Glenn Beck. I sure a fan would cherish it as much as you were planning on.

  • BookW

    Glenn, you are one classy guy!  I’m so impressed by your attitude towards the person who made this mistake–you have shown such a Christ-like attitude even though I’m sure you’re very upset about it.  Good for you!  And you know God is so proud of you!

  • Anonymous

    A message for all friend’s family and stranger’s
    I have lost some very,very important thing’s in my 50yr’s on this rock we call home ,My pastor told me when I was 20yr’s after one of my so called friend’s stole my signed Steve Garvey baseball mit !
    There will be NO   U-haul truck at my funeral to put my thing’s I had collected throughout my life in the hole I will rest in until my name is called by our LORD(I hope I have done well) it was excellent advise because a few year’s later my X wife tore up my autographed L.A.Laker’s 3 peat season picture (BY the whole  team !!! ) it keep me from doing something stupid!!
    So goes life I still have my memories !
    Be Blessed

  • Anonymous

    You are more forgiving than me (but I guess you also have a lot more money than me). Well, I would forgive her, but I’d also hold her responsible. I looked at the original, and anyone who doesn’t realize that the bowl was not just a ‘dirty fishbowl’ is not too bright. It was quite clearly painted and signed, so even though she is just a cleaning lady, she is also a bit incompetent, no matter how well meaning her action was. 

  • ThomasC

    You know, for someone who is constantly preaching about the truth and advising others to seek out the truth, Beck sure loves to believe and live the lie of Abraham Lincoln.

  • Anonymous

    I have worked as a custodian in several places and businesses. One cardinal rule is: NEVER TOUCH anything on the  boss’ desk!!!! (Actually, at many places, if it’s on a desk, it gets left alone, no matter what it is.) Dusting is OK, but if there’s even an old burger wrapper, it gets left on the desk. Sorry, but I would probably fire her. If she had been a long time staffer, perhaps a rundown on the rules.

  • dinker

    It’s too bad about the value of the fish bowl—but I was wondering about the nationality of the cleaning lady as I think that anyone from this country and of a certain age would know the name Orson Wells or wouldn’t just go ahead and wash off the decorations of anything.

  • Jugears “tricky dick” Soetero

    I hate to say this but knowing many cleaning crews in my days of working and running businesses are all one mistake away from being fired with many just trying to do the right thing …..but it’s kind of emblematic of what’s going on in the nation. Can’t communicate with a quarter of the people and half of those you can aren’t listening. They HEAR you but don’t listen.

    Half of it’s one one page, and the other half are on their own page and not leaving IT anytime soon.  150million Chiefs and not ANY Indians.

  • Cheryl Glodowski

    Oh, I feel your pain, but I agree…all you can do is laugh and look at it as “stuff”.  Stuff doesn’t matter in life.  Your treatment of the lady that did it is what matters, and you did a good job.  Take it home, put a fish in it & enjoy it that way!!

  • Yitz Garfinkel

    Glenn, I am so prud of you that you can be the man we should all aspire to be if the same thing would have happened to us. I know things like that have happened to me and I know what it took to not go ‘ off the deep end’. You’re a real “Mentch”. God bless you!

  • Jeremiah Nierras

    Oh God, I feel bad for laughing now. Sorry, Glenn, we lose some, and we lose some A LOT.

  • Judy

    By being so nice about this you have probably succeeded in making the cleaning lady feel really rotten. Seriously, I think you shouldn’t have even talked about it today.  Dig deep and see the real reason you did.


    I’m not just sorry. I understand your grief I really do. Three years ago, my wife Harriett at age 46 died from a seizure and the image of giving her cpr while I waited on the medics will not be erased in this lifetime.
      About a year ago, I was vacuuming under the sofa, when the vacuum head caught an extension cord. As I retracted the hose, I saw a hidden power cord coming with it. In my peripheral vision I saw something moving, but the distance was too great to reach and in a moment it smashed on the floor and shattered!
      What I had saw moving in slow motion was a ceramic lighthouse sitting on an end table; one of several gifts Harrie had given me the first Christmas we spent engaged to be married the next year. The lighthouse gift just amazed me because she had remembered; and what I thought was such a tiny gift had meant a great deal to her. It was just costume jewelry but I liked it, a small inexpensive little gold lighthouse pin with a tiny diamond for a light.
        It seemed like an eternity as I watched the fragile lighthouse tumbling to the floor, the top breaking into ten or more pieces. I sat there for a minute – then started shaking and grieved for several hours, thinking, ‘so this is what a breakdown is all about’. Someone is going to find me out of mind sitting on the floor next to a vacuum and broken ceramic. After sticking my head under cold water for a couple of minutes, I gathered my wits, picked up the pieces and tucked them away in small box. Then I set the lighthouse back on the end table with the top missing; found the little switch and the light came on!
       I know how much that fish bowl means to you, but it is not broken, it’s just faded a little and now it has a story that you and Orson can laugh about in a place where fish bowls, lighthouses and people can be renewed by the Master Craftsman of the universe.
    With all of our love,
    Don & Harriett

    Smyrna, Georgia, 20120623SA

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