Friday, 20 May 2011

Portrait of a thief

Artist at work
                                   The Dove symbolises World Peace
There was an aspiring artist who struggled to earn a living, by painting portraits for wealthy people. He lived in a rented shack which doubled as his studio. One day a rich man came passing by and took an instant liking of some of the young artiste’s works. The millionaire sought the service of the artiste and they agreed a price tag of $10,000/-

         Picasso's early works
Upon the completion of his portraits after a week, the millionaire came to the poor artiste’s studio to collect it. He was more than satisfied of the job done but the greedy man brewed an evil thought: This artist was too young and little known, why should I pay him $10,000/-? He offered $3,000/- to the painter of his portrait despite an agreed price, thinking that after all it was his looks painted in the portrait, and who would want to buy a portrait bearing his face? “If I chose not to buy, who would?" The unscrupulous rich man was deep in his heinous thought.

                                                                   Self portrait Picasso 1907            

The young man was stunned; he had never encountered such a delicate situation. Regaining his composure the artiste tried in vain to convince the millionaire not to back out on his promise to pay $10,000/- to claim his portrait. He went as far as telling the rich man to be a man of principle, a person who would stick to his promises etc. The rich man was visibly annoyed and became impatient. “$3,000/- is my final offer to you and I will be leaving with my portrait” still thinking he had secured an upper hand in bargaining, “ will you accept it?” The young artist was really frustrated with the sly man’s offer but he was determined not to bow to the unreasonable demand. He exclaimed, in a tensed shouting tone to the snobbish man: “No, I won’t sell it at $3,000/- One day you would have to fork out $200,000/- for the portrait I painted for you. It will be a punishment for your dishonesty. Right now I rather keep this painting and I will not give in to your demeaning insult.” The haughty tycoon was surprised at the response of the artist but he still wanted to show his arrogance: “You got to be kidding, who would pay a junked piece of painting at $200,000/-, I won’t be that foolish!” Hence he stormed out of the artist’s studio. 

Soon after this unhappy episode, the diligent artist left town to look for greener pasture elsewhere, as he could hardly earn a proper living. At the new place, not too far away, he enrolled as an apprentice at a famous art school where he enhanced and improved his artistic flair. Fast forward and ten over years had lapsed; the artist had successfully carved his name as a polished painter of recent times. He became famous and was popular among the art critics who rallied to have his works exhibited at their galleries.

Right after the next day of his spar of harsh words with the artiste, the rogue millionaire had already forgotten about the whole incident. One day He was with his usual composed self until his friends and associates, one after another visited him and told him something unusual and that unnerved him. They told him that there was one portrait displayed at the city’s art gallery had a non-negotiable price tag of $200,000/- Funny though; the portrait resembled uncannily the millionaire’s looks! And the worst news the rich man wanted to hear: The portrait was titled “The face of a thief”. The rich tycoon fell off his chair, feeling like he had just been stricken with a booming stick. He struggled to get up and in a release of his anguish, he muttered: “I have got to do something.” He managed to recall the incident when he let down the struggling young artist.
                                  A suave Picasso in his hey day

In the evening hours of the same day, the millionaire knocked on the now well-known artist’s door at the gallery. He tendered his apology profusely and paid promptly $200,000/- for a portrait painted with his look. 
                                Picasso portrayed a very confident aura
More than a decade ago, the young artist refused to bow to pressure even he was in abject financial distress. His perseverance bore fruit and he triumphed finally as the winner of a bitter tussle. His name is Pablo Picasso. (Renowned Spanish artist 1881-1973)

Story translated by Alan CY Kok
from an article received via e-mail

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