Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“It took 12 nail-biting minutes and five eager bidders for Edvard Munch’s famed 1895 pastel of “The Scream” to sell for $119.9 million, becoming the world’s most expensive work of art ever to sell at auction." NY Times, May 2
The art world is agog and rumors are flying around like grand pianos in a tornado. Who is the mystery buyer of The Scream? Who scrimped and saved and finally just embezzled the Church’s Golden Halo fund to acquire this iconic painting?
I can tell you right now, she is not a financier, a tycoon or a Qatari royal. She is me, a beekeeper upstate with a bad case of eczema that even multiple beestings have not helped, which is why I chose to conduct my bidding over the telephone.
Ever since my third husband gave me a five-foot inflatable Scream for Valentines Day,
I knew I had to have to real thing. Or soon thereafter. I still remember how he got up extra early that morning. Later, I realized that was because he was blowing up the Scream, and the truth was that his lung power was not very good after two decades of smoking unfiltered Gauloises. So he used the bicycle pump, which would have been a perfectly reasonable solution if he had not broken the middle finger of his left hand while pumping, which impaired his ability to signal his displeasure to fellow drivers on Route 19. Because the truth also was that his arm power wasn’t all that much better than his lung power, after two decades of professional curling.
Once inflated, he brought the Scream in to our bedroom, so it was the first thing I saw when I woke on that fateful February morning. It there is anything I like better than Demolition Derby and Corn Dogs, it is Angst and Ennui made Manifest in Paint.
Over time, I called her Sally Scream and took her everywhere with me. But let’s face it, she was a cheap inflatable toy and after a while she started leaking air. Then in the summer Butch, our dog, had an unfortunate altercation with a porcupine and in the throes of misery he ran straight into Sally Scream and punctured her beyond repair. Poor Butch. I had to give up my stash of Valium to get him calm enough to let me remove the quills. There were a lot of quills.
My husband offered to get me another inflatable Scream, or a set of Scream finger puppets, but I said, No more. I want the real thing. If my Angst is real, then the painting should be too. But I knew it would be hard. I wasn’t exactly opposed to stealing one of the versions of the paintings, but I knew they were in Oslo and I have always had a problem with herring, and Oslo just seemed too far to go during bee season. I also knew that in the normal course of events we would were unlikely to come up with the requisite millions to buy one of the paintings at auction. I started selling things on eBay, and while the clutter was demonstrably reduced, my PayPal account never got into the 4 digits. Then the Evangelical Church of St Feliximas and Her Thousand Haloes built a cathedral in our town, and they needed a bookkeeper. I altered my resume ever so slightly, changing double e’s into double o’s, so that beekeeper became bookkeeper, and voila, I had myself a job managing the finances for the Church. You may not have heard of St Feliximas and her Thousand Haloes, but you should know that she had many fine qualities, so fine that the members of the church like donate large sums for the gilding of her haloes. The thing is, they can’t tell the difference between real gold and fake gold, and the thousand haloes are way up high in the apse. Since Saint Feliximas hasn’t caused the skies to open or the earth to be rent, I am assuming she has no problem with my re-direction of the fund.
In no time at all, I had the money squirreled away in the Cayman Islands, and it was only a matter of waiting for the next Scream to come to auction. You know the rest. Though I should say that those twelve minutes were not so much nail-biting as hair-pulling, but that is just my way. The Scream hangs in our bedroom now. I told Fergus - he’s my new husband - that it is a reproduction, and as he’s more of a Mannerist guy himself so he doesn’t pay it much attention. There are still days when I miss the companionability of Sally Scream, riding shotgun with me in the Tahoe, but they are rare.

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