it just all slips
away so slowly
you don’t even notice
till you’ve lost a lot
— the prophet ani difranco
He was just an Italian autoworker in Turin who bought a painting at a train station’s auction for lost-and-found stuff.
It was a still life of fruit. He paid a hundred bucks for it. Hung it on the wall in his kitchen, because, well, you know, it was fruit. Seemed to fit in.
There it stayed. It made the trip with him in retirement to Sicily. New kitchen wall, same old painting. On the wall for 40 years. I guess he liked it.
Then one day his son, who had gone off to college and gotten smart, noticed a dog in the corner. Suspicious, he called in an expert. Turns out the painting is a work by Paul Gauguin that had been stolen from a British collector and left on the train. It’s worth somewhere between $16 million and $40 million. Frame sold separately.
Now it’s in police custody. And the old guy has a blank spot on the wall.
Maybe he’ll get it back. The law seems murky. But I suppose you don’t just hang a $40 million painting on the kitchen wall anyhow, so it doesn’t matter.
I thought about this story through my run today. I’m not sure what the moral is. Something about how we’re happier when we don’t know too much. Or how random life can be. Or how perception sways our views. Or how I never really cared for paintings of fruit. I don’t know. I don’t think clearly when I run without my glasses.
I just know that somewhere in Sicily a guy is drinking his coffee this morning and he’s lost an old friend. And that’s sort of sad …