Pawn Stars – Fact or Fiction?

The History Channel currently has two shows that do well in the ratings. The first one is one of my more favorite shows, “American Pickers”. The second is “Pawn Stars”. I like both shows when I have time to watch TV. After watching Pawn Stars a few times I got the sense that a lot of the show was staged. Some things just didn’t seem right. I did some research and came across some articles claiming the show is not only staged, but fake.

I’m not saying these articles are true. The evidence however, seems very overwhelming. These articles even provide data and pictures of items that are either not the same or clearly fake. Read below and tell me what you think.

Full article found here

I watched a rerun of History’s (cable’s newest reality television network) Pawn Stars the other night. (Season 2; Episode 5). In this episode a man named Rod brought in — what he “believed” to be — his 1960 Les Paul Custom guitar. Rod claimed to have gotten the guitar during the 1980s while touring with bands Toto and Triumph.

I got curious as to just who he was in relation to those two bands, so I hit the internet to investigate. What I found was not exactly a surprise, even if it was a disappointment.

The segment was completely staged. The guitar used in the show belonged to local Las Vegas vintage guitar store, Cowtown Guitars. The “customer” was played by an employee of that same store. And the “expert” brought in to appraise it was yet another Cowtown Guitar employee/manager. (Exposé credit goes to the guitarphiles in the Les Paul Forums.)

The customer named Rod in the Pawn Stars episode is actually Rod Miller of Cowtown Guitars in Las Vegas, where he is employed at as a luthier. How long he has worked there, I do not know. But I found evidence of his employment there fourteen months before the first episode of Pawn Stars ever aired. (See Exhibit A below.)

Jesse, the guitar expert in the episode that identified the guitar as being from 1972, can be found on Cowtown Guitar’s website as one of the store’s principal contacts.

With respect to the guitar, as of March 2011, it was still listed (as sold) on Cowtown Guitar’s website. Note the same identical buckle rash in the website photo as in the episode clip below. (See Exhibit B above.)

But it does not end there. I found another episode that used more Cowtown inventory to stage a segment. In season 2, episode 14, a “customer” trades a 18th century French double-barreled shotgun for a 1978 Gibson Les Paul. Although Rick’s expert appraises the shotgun for $10,000, the owner settles for “$4,000 worth of guitar.” The customer had previously stated he was looking for a high end guitar — and it just so happened Rick had one in the back, which he admitted to never putting on display.

Meanwhile, over at Cowtown Guitars, there was a 1979 Gibson Les Paul for sale, identical in every way except for the year. (Click here to view Exhibit C.) Coincidence? Eh, probably not.

So, if the guitar was a setup, that means the transaction was a setup. And by way of the transitive property, it means the gun and customer must also be setups. In other words, the entire segment was duplicitous and a complete fabrication. (My guess is that the gun was brought in by the gun expert, himself.)

Still do not believe the show is completely fake? If the misrepresentations of these two segments involving three mundane pieces were not enough to cast aspersions over the entire series for you, you are in luck; because there is more.

There is proof of fraud as early as season one, episode eight, entitled Time Machines.

Rick Harrison buys a 1950s Coca-Cola machine to refurbish. Rick Dale of Rick’s Restorations is enlisted to restore the machine. (You might also know Rick Dale from History’s American Restoration.) The finished result is beautiful, indeed. However, there is one small problem. It is not the same machine.

In fact, it is not even the same model. The machine on the left is identified as a Vendo 39. But the restored machine on the right is a Cavalier 79. The dimensions of the two machines are not even the same.

This was noticed by a Gulf Oil memorabilia collector who also claimed to recognize another piece on the show. Rick’s Big Bet (Season 1; Episode 10) had a Wayne gas pump that, again, was taken to Rick’s Restorations after purchase from the “customer.”



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