Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Auction

A very wealthy man and his only son shared a passion for collecting art.  Together they would travel the world, seeking out the finest treasurers of art: works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others to add to their collection.  The old man, a widower, was very proud that his only child had become an experienced art collector.
When fall approached, war engulfed their nation and the young man was conscripted to serve his country.  After only a few months, his father received a telegram from the Army that his son was wounded in action while trying to drag a fellow soldier to a medic.  The father anxiously waited an update on  news of his son.  Finally word came confirming his worst fears - his son had died from his injuries.  Distraught, the old man entered the holiday season with sadness.  He knew the joy of Christmas would never visit his home again.
On Christmas morning, he awoke to a knock on the door.  As he walked to the door, he passed the masterpieces he and his son collected and they only reminded him that his son would come home no more.  When he opened the door, he was greeted by a young soldier with a large package.  The soldier introduced himself by saying, "I was a friend of your son.  In fact, I was the one he was trying to rescue when he was shot.  May I come?"  

Once seated, the soldier shared how the old man's son always shared with everyone in the unit the love he and his father had for fine art.  "Since I'm an amateur artist," said the soldier, "I have something I would like to give you."
The old man unwrapped the package; it was a water color portrait of his son.  Though not a work of genius by any means, the painting featured his son's face in striking detail.  Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the young soldier and assured him he would hang this picture above the fireplace.  True to his word, other paintings worth thousands of dollars were moved from above the fireplace just to make room for the painting of his son.  This painting was, without a doubt, the greatest gift the old man had ever received.
As summer arrived the old man passed away and the art world was excited!  With his demise, everyone knew his paintings would now be sold at an auction.  Sure enough, an auction of his estate was announced.  According to his will, all of his art would be auctioned on Christmas Day.
When Christmas Day arrived, art dealers and collectors from around the world gathered at his home.  They gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular treasures of art.  At noon, the auctioneer walked forward to begin the auction.  He picked up his gavel to begin the auction with a painting that was not on the auction list.  It was the water color painting of the old man's son.
The room was silent as the auctioneer asked the crowd for an opening bid.  "Who will start the bidding with $1,000?" he asked.  Moments passed and no one spoke.  "Will someone start the bidding at $500?" he asked. 
From the back of the room someone yelled, "Who cares about that painting?  Let's get to the good paintings."

"Who will start the bidding at a $100?" 
"Forget that picture," another yelled." 
"No”, said the auctioneer.  "My instructions are to sell this painting first", the auctioneer replied.  "Now, who will open the bidding with any bid?" he asked again. 
Finally, a  maid who had worked for the family for nearly 20 years spoke.  "Will you take $20 for the painting? That's all I have in my purse."
"We have a bid of $20.  Do I here $25?"  asked the auctioneer.  Silence filled the air!  "Will anyone go higher than $20?" called the auctioneer.

After more moments of silence the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice ... Gone!"  and his gavel fell. 
Cheers filled the room and someone shouted, "Great.  Now we can get on with the real auction and bid on the true treasures!"

With his gavel laid down, the auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.  Everyone in the room was stunned.  "What do you mean, it's over?" someone yelled.  "We didn't come here for a portrait of some kid!  We came here for real works of art.  What about all the other paintings?  There are millions of dollars worth of art work here that we want to buy."

Another yelled, "We demand an explanation!"  The auctioneer replied, "It's simple.  According to the old man's will, whoever took his son's portrait ... got it all."