The Collector

by Gustavo Bondoni

 

“Mr. Stanlow, do you have a second?”

The millionaire art collector stopped just outside the door, turned and smiled at the reporter.  He hid his surprise that they’d tracked him down so quickly, but it just went to reinforce that things happened at lightning speed in the internet age.  “Of course. How can I help you?”

“Have you heard about SuperEdie?”

A note of sadness crept into Stanlow’s voice.  “Of course.  I suppose the entire art world has by now.  A terrible tragedy.  She was a true star, of course, but more than that, that’s a terrible thing to happen to anyone.”

“Did you know her well?”

“Probably no better than your average reader.  I’d met her once or twice.  Before you ask, yes, she looked remarkably like Edie Sedgewick in person, which is why she cultivated the persona, I guess.  She seemed like a good person – but I was just a collector to her, a means to an end.” He shook his head.  “I guess my days of collecting SuperEdie are over.”

“Do you have any idea who would want to do a thing like this to her?  It was such a brutal murder, a lot of people are speculating that she might have been involved in something illegal.  Do you know if she was involved in drug dealing?”

“As I said, I didn’t know her all that well.  I saw her at a couple of parties, and that’s it.”  He paused for a second.  “Having said that, the parties were what you in the press would call ‘wild’, I guess.  I’m a bit too old for that kind of thing, but I can imagine how a young girl could get involved a little too deeply with a supplier.  Although if I had to guess, I’d look for a jealous lover – she was beautiful, and she lived life to the fullest, so I’d start there.”

“Were you her lover?”

Ah, thought Stanlow, this guy was from one of those papers.  But he knew how to deal with that kind of thing.  “As I said, she was a bit out of my league.  I think you should be looking for Hollywood actors, not sixty-year-old men.”  He winked at the reporter.  “Money can only get you so far.”

“Nut you have the biggest SuperEdie collection in the world.  Maybe she chose to express her gratitude for your patronage.”

“Sadly, no.  My motives for stockpiling her art are purely financial.  I pride myself on being able to spot superstars in the making.  Buying when no one else is is a good way of getting a good price.”

The reporter nodded.  Everyone knew that Stanlow had gone from penniless immigrant in the early nineties to art magnate twenty years later thanks to a golden eye for talent.  Focusing on a few young up-and-comers, buying low and selling high, had netted him an eight-figure fortune.  “Too bad they all seem to die so young.”

Stanlow shrugged.  “The stars that shine brightest often burn out the quickest.  Think of Hendrix.  Or, in the art world, think of Keith Haring.  If he were alive today, maybe I’d have had the opportunity to buy his art.  Even Warhol survived his youth only by the slimmest of margins and because his would-be assassin had little talent for murder.  From what I’ve seen, artists lead pretty disorganized lives.”

“So, do you know who the next big thing will be?”

“Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it?”

“And what would you say about the value of SuperEdie’s work now?”

He nodded sadly, even though this was the question he wanted.  “In my experience, this kind of thing turns artists into immortals.  You should see a big rise in SuperEdie prices.”

“You should make a killing.”

“I only wish the opportunity didn’t arise.  I don’t really need another few million, and not having any new SuperEdie art to look at will be a terrible loss to the world – and to me personally.”

He saluted the journalist and got into the waiting car, a dark blue Mercedes-Benz limousine.  Stretched, of course, but not obscenely so.

His driver, as always, had the partition lowered.  A silent partner in his business, the man was also about to become rich due to the demise of the young artist.

“Hello Walter.”

“Hi Boss.  They asking about SuperEdie?”

“Of course.  It’s the only thing we’ll hear about for the next few days.”

“Poor girl.  She was just a wisp of a thing, it almost makes you cry,” the driver said. 

Stanlow smiled inwardly, thinking how sentimental streaks seemed to arise in the least likely of places.  “She was beginning to slip.  Her art wasn’t what it once was. In a few years, no one would have been buying her stuff, and our collection would have been worthless. I blame the cocaine.”

“I suppose you’re right.  I really wouldn’t know about that sort of thing.”

They drove in silence for a few minutes.  There was a small gallery at a strip mall where an unknown artist from Peru was making her first big exhibition.  He’d seen her stuff, and it spoke to him.  Perhaps she wouldn’t be the next big superstar, but it would be worth betting a few thousand dollars on her.  It only took one of those small bets to pay off, and the early work would be worth millions.

“Are you going to offload her art tight away?”

“No.  Remember what happened last time.  When Carlos died, we sold everything too soon.  We’ll wait six months.  We should get spectacular prices then.”

The driver nodded.  “I guess you’re right.  Reckon we lost a few million last time.”

“You lost a few million.  I lost tens of millions.  We won’t make that mistake again.”

The driver nodded.

But Stanlow wasn’t finished.  “And Walter?”

“Yes boss?”

“Next time, could you make it look like an accident?”

“Sure boss.  Whatever you say, boss.”

 

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One Response to “The Collector”

  1. Defenestrationism.net » Blog Archive » Announcing the 2017 !Short Story Contest! Finalists Says:

    […] –“The Collector”, Gustavo Bondoni […]

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