Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Collector With the Dirty Nails

'Do you have any books on Peter Paul Rubens?"

I looked up to see a handsome older man. He wore a white seersucker suit (AKA, the 'Southern Suit') with a white shirt, topped with a silver blue tie that matched his eyes. His white hair was well styled.

"Sir, I'm sure I have something on Rubens. Lets go to the computer and I'll look in my inventory."

I punched in the artist's name and pushed the keyword search button.

"Are you a Rubens fan?" he asked.

"Well, I'm more a van Gogh fan." I answered.

"I bought a Rubens painting at an estate auction and want to see if I was ripped off." he told me.

I stared at him not knowing if I heard right.

"You bought a Rubens? May I ask how much you paid for that?"

I knew it was a nervy question but I really wanted to know!

He just threw back his head and laughed.

"Um, you're not going to answer, are you?" I smiled at him. He ignored me.

"Which one did you buy?"

"The Little Daughter."

Okay, let's stop right here so I can tell you that the first thing I did when I got home that evening was to go to google and search that painting. Now, I do not know much about Rubens. I know he was one of the great Masters of art. I know that he painted in the 1600's. And I know he painted in Baroque style. That's it. I did not know he painted lots and lots of portraits of little girls. I was not able to ascertain for sure which this gentleman had purchased, tho I am leaning toward this one:

I came to the conclusion that it might be this painting because that is, indeed, Rubens' daughter, painted when she was six years old.

Now this is the thing; the gentleman told me the artist's signature was on a certificate fastened to the back of the portrait. In fact, he said it was ripped. I know for a fact that the royal family of England owns a Rubens. I have a feeling Rubens signed it in the front lower paint! I also think if you are purchasing an authentic painting by one of the world's Masters, you would have it verified by an expert. and if it is offered to you for no less than a fortune, YOU ARE PROBABLY BEING HAD!

Okay, I found this man some books and you know what he asked??

"Can you copy the pages for me so I don't have to buy the books?"

You are telling me you just bought a Rubens painting and you can't afford a $29 book??

"No sir, we don't provide that service." I tell him.

He pointed to an image of a biography of the artist. We did not have it in stock and he asked me to order it. Which I did. But not before I noticed that this gentleman, this fine, fine gentleman with the white suit and the silver blue tie and the perfectly styled hair, this gentleman who has just told me he has purchased a Rubens, had the nastiest, filthiest, ragged fingernails I have ever seen on an adult. Disgusting, black, dirt crusted nails.

Somehow, I do not think he purchased a real Rubens. But who am I to judge?


  1. nope, only guys with clean fingernails buy work by 17th century masters. I think there's a rule about that.

  2. I know, I know, it was a small, petty observation but he was soo dressed in white that it stood out.

    Do I think he had a real Rubens? I dunno, to be honest.

  3. Honestly, here's what I think: he's as much of a forgery as his supposed Rubens. Why do I think this? Because I've never known a man of means to have ever gotten his hands dirty except proverbially- and because only con artists make such an effort to look so debonair in small towns like this one. They want to look a certain stereotype so that they are afforded an automatic prestige...don't be fooled. Half the people in the South are full of shit with their "manners" and "airs"- it's just an archaic system of judgement, insults, lies, and fair-weather friends.
    Just think of how the "good gentry" of Atlanta treated Scarlett because she didn't follow their rules. That's what you and I are still living in.

  4. Anon, I love this comment. I'm sitting here nodding my head, "Yes, yes!" as I read it.

    You and I both know that the South is a whole different brand of people. We know about 'Southern Gentility.' We know about 'Southern Fraud,' too. My point with that post was that this man had all the outward signs of gentility, yet something as small as unkempt nails gave him away.

    It would be like Rosiland Carter having a tattoo. It just doesn't mesh.

    Maybe one needs to live here to understand. But what do I know?

  5. I have to admit i have never been down south but I know enough people that would fit that bill of wax.. lol.. and i know nothign about art so this is a good lesson.. thanks for sharing your customers with us.

  6. tweetey, I have a feeling you are becoming a bit interested in art!

    You should plan a trip to the South sometime. It's a world totally different than the north.

  7. interesting... I have to say i dont think the two go together... if he was a master it would be one or the other.... he would care what he looked like so he would be all dirty most likely..

  8. Sir Thomas, it's so nice to see you here! Btw, I'm still reeling over your beautiful post on your blog.

  9. I remember well when growing up in the South, all those seersucker suits and many times topped with a straw hat. Dirty fingernails definitely do not go with the look. Has a line of bull like some people I know. And after buying a masterpiece, too cheap to buy a book. Give me a break!

    I'm so happy to be here and thank you for visiting my blog so I could find you! This is a great post and I see lots of good things to read so I'll be browsing for a while. Love the Dr. Seuss quote!

  10. Again, I'm so glad you are enjoying your visit here! Why don't you pull up a chair and pour yourself a cup of coffee? :)


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