Monday, September 25, 2006

Never Feel Sorry For A Man With His Own Plane

One of the top headlines in Bloomberg news this morning was the revelation in an Austrian Magazine that an Austrian speculator had been forced to sell amongst other things a van Gogh in order to repay the Austrian Bank whose money he was reputed to have lost in the markets. The article closed by saying that the centerpiece was, (of all places), now adorning the walls of Steve Wynn's Las Vegas palace, and that it's former owner was too distraught to cast eyes upon it ever again.

In addition to the irony that the famous canvas finds itself yet again, in a gambling establishment, it must be pointed out that that it is but another in a long list of speculators and famous works sold under duress. Alan Bond, Ryoei Saito who's story is detailed by Cassandra here, along with many others whose involuntary art dispositions and subsequent legal humiliation were far worse than what's at stake here.

Perhaps the point of the Bloomberg article was to mock the feelings the van Gogh's former owner, though with Mr Bloomberg himself being a collector, such an accusation might be out of line. Or perhaps the implied sympathies were genuine. After all, the wealthy do have feelings too. But the implicit plea for sorrow made me think of that film with Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, (and Bart The Bear, for whihc he won a special Academy Award) called "The Edge", in which Hopkins plays a fabulously wealthy older man with a stunning young wife who as it happens is having an affair with his confidante, the young Mr Baldwin. They are all away in somewhere in Alaska for Hopkins character's birthday celebration where they (sans wife) take a little sea plane voyage to do some fly fishing or such.

Baldwin's character, emboldened 'cause he's sleeping with his rich old Friend's beautiful young wife starts taunting Hopkins asking how difficult and challenging it must be "to be rich". "You never who your friends are", "You never know if someone is sincere or just wants something for from you....". "Yeah it must be rough...". Hopkins is silent. Expressionless. He hears what Baldwin is saying, clearly contemplating it carefully as they cross beautiful virgin Alaska wilderness. Then, in with the utmost of non-chalance, Hopkins responds: "Yes, well you should NEVER feel sorry for a man who owns his own Jet Plane...". Which seems rather fitting in the circumstances in case one was in danger of shedding too many sympathetic tears.

1 comment:

pi said...

To me it reminds me of a scene from Citizen Kane. What did Charles Kane want? "To love on my terms. Those are the only terms ...".
The bottom line is about control. Lose that control and the rich looks like rest of working stiffs.