08 May 2008

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (PG-13)

What do Jackson Pollock and a 73-year-old former truck driver have in common? Attitude.

Teri Horton went to Dot’s Spot Thrift Store with one intention: Get something cheap to cheer up her depressed friend. After rummaging through so much junk, this dumpster-diving grandma found the perfect gift. Five dollars later, she cruised to her friend’s trailer with an “ugly” painting that put an uncertain smile on her friend’s face. Unable to fit their future dartboard through her friend’s trailer door, they tried to sell it at a yard sale instead.

Now, a less scrupulous person could have taken advantage of Teri’s ignorance of art. But when she tried to sell it to a local art teacher for a ten spot, he stopped her and said, “I’m no expert, but I think you have a Jackson Pollock.” Expert or not, Teri followed up on his suggestion and discovered that she did indeed have what looked like a Pollock. Now, she just needed someone from the art community to give her the $50 million she was asking.

No one bit, but plenty shot insults her way for even considering that she could have purchased a Pollock at a thrift store. Not to mention, she had no provenance (the painting’s written history) to back it up aside from a receipt from Dot now dead and gone. Rejected over and over again by art critics as a poor forgery, Teri started to tell a wild story about how she got it from a well-known Hollywood bar owner, who had received the painting from Pollock directly. The story didn’t work, but then science shined upon her and presented her with Peter Paul Biro. An art forensics specialist, Biro specializes in figuring out “who committed the art” (vs. the murder).

It didn’t take Biro long to find the evidence he needed: a finger print and paint that matched that found in Pollock’s studio. But to the art experts, that didn’t matter. “Science is interesting, but they’re not the experts.” Determined to get her price and realizing that her brusque nature kept her at bay from the world of the art elite, she hired convicted confidence man Tod Volpe to move her Pollock. Volpe already had the connections and knew how to move through the haughty society that gobbles up hot works of art. Not even he could sell Teri’s Pollock…well, not for the price she wanted anyway.

While Volpe tried without provenance to convince buyers that they had the chance of a lifetime, Biro continued to find more proof of the painting’s authenticity to include several matching fingerprints and the other half of the painting. Yet, literally talking down their noses, the snooty “experts” refused to relent. They are the experts and without their approval, Teri’s Pollock would remain a poor knock-off. Despite the lack of provenance or the art experts’ approval, Teri received offers of up to $9 million.

Did she take it? Nope. Just like Pollock, she refused to take less than she what the painting is worth…experts be damned!

*The name of the art “experts” have been withheld to protect further embarrassment.

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