By now I assume you've read or heard
the news about a one hundred and thirty
million dollar painting that was found
hidden behind a locked door in an attic
near Toulouse, France. Apparently a
ceiling leak prompted the homeowners
to search for the source which led them
to discover what has now been officially
designated as a Caravaggio. Given the
subject matter is a gruesome beheading
I'm certain that at some point someone
decided it was unfit for public display.
And so it sat in purgatory for 150 years.
If you've ever watched Antiques Road
Show on PBS you're well aware that
many treasures await discovery within
humble homes across the United States.
While the odds are most definitely not
in your favor - that doesn't mean that
something you've forgotten or loathed
might be worth a fortune. You see most
of these stories revolve around one thing,
IGNORANCE. Almost every object of
desire has a story to tell however often
over time, the details of our possessions
get lost in the shuffle. And so we forget.
You've heard the stories. Somebody
purchases a bag of costume jewelry
at a garage sale for a dollar only to
find a ring that intrigues. When they
finally bring it to an expert - it's a six
carrot diamond - not a piece of glass.
Who knows how it got there?! But
chances are it's owner either hid it
(and then died) or somehow put it in
the wrong place at the wrong time.
How it got there doesn't matter, the
fact is some benefit from another's
mistakes. Thus ignorance is bliss.
Chip off the old block?
Many rely on a tale told by our elders
as to what has worth. Most family tales
are pure fiction. Which is why eager
people drag junk down to the experts
only to discover they're not worth the
gas it took to get them there. Which
in part explains why one man's trash
is another's treasure. Few realize what
they've got till these literally lose it.
When one loses a beloved one, our
Pavlovian reaction is an urge to purge.
Yet one wonders just might be getting
lost in said race to fill the dumpster!
Post the exit of my parents I'm daily
reminded of just how ignorant I am.
While I clung on to the things Ethel
considered invaluable - who knows
what goodies I tossed in the process
Hence I'm trying to be smart about
leaving some sort of a paper trail
behind should I be flattened by some
semi tomorrow. Years ago I bought
some art at an estate sale in Dallas.
Attached to the back of each was
an envelope containing the original
bill of sale. HEAVEN HELP US!
The missing link
Even with a Caravaggio, provenance
is key. Hence the rift between several
art experts over whether said painting
is the real thing or a faux pas. Hence
even in our paperless cyber world, it's
important that we chronicle where,
what, how, and when as relates to our
valuables. While you may remember
all the details about your engagement
ring - years from now your great, great,
great, grandchild will know absolutely
nothing unless you make sure they're
in the loop. FACTS versus fiction!
Trash to treasure
Many treasures were virtually worthless
in their time. Much that we now deem
as rarities were once mundane everyday
commodities. Part of an item's worth is
whether it's an isolated instance or some
common denominator. The fact is you
can't predict whether that trinket you
treasure may in the future be worth a
fortune. Therefore making sure others
understand why it's important to you
creates a legacy far more valuable than
any antique appraisal go-forward. After
all, aren't your memories priceless?