What’s more criminal? Throwing out David Letterman’s Late Show set, or dumpster-diving for it?

Some fans of David Letterman certainly were caught off guard Thursday when they saw construction crews ripping out the seats and the set from inside the Ed Sullivan Theatre and tossing it into dumpsters.

Why wouldn’t they sell the pieces at auction, as Stephen Colbert had with his Comedy Central studio when his show ended?

Another fan gamely went to eBay this week with three large backdrop pieces he’d scored when the CBS Late Show had parted with its original 1993 set.

As this video explains, Mike Bonanno from The Yes Men “rescued” these set pieces, and now, two decades later, he’s selling them to support the funding and distribution of the troupe’s movie.

Get the set from the David Letterman Show (90's) from mike bonanno on Vimeo.

As of this publication, the auction has four days and 19 hours remaining, with a minimum asking bid of $10,000…and just now one taker so far..

Oh, by the way, it’s actually against the law in New York City to dumpster-dive or take one person’s trash and turn into your treasure. Fines range from $100 to $2,000, depending upon what you’ve taken off the curb.

Unauthorized Removal of Refuse No one, other than an authorized employee or agent of the DSNY, shall disturb or remove ashes, garbage, refuse (including recycling) or rubbish placed within the stoop line or in front of houses for removal by householders, tenants or occupants. §16-118(7)(B) FINE: $100-$300

Theft of Commercial Recyclable Material Except for an authorized employee of an entity licensed by or registered with the Business Integrity Commission, it shall be unlawful for any person to disturb, remove, or transport by motor vehicle any amount of recyclable material placed out for collection by owners of commercial properties or businesses. §16-118(7)(c) FINE: $2,000

I happened to remember seeing a report on this just earlier this month on the local CBS affiliate, even!

Roll the clip.

So if you’re looking for souvenirs or memorabilia, either just ask the crew nicely for it before it hits the curb or dumpster. Please. Or ask them to tape a piece of paper reading “FREE” on it just like the rest of New Yorkers do.

Top photo: Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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One thought on “What’s more criminal? Throwing out David Letterman’s Late Show set, or dumpster-diving for it?

  1. Both are tragic. It’s kind of shitty one of the places with the highest homeless rate has a law against looking through the trash. Wtf is a homeless guy going to do with a $2,000 fine?

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