Chapter 129 – Buddhist Scripture Written with Gold (2)
Most westerners don’t really care about Buddhist scriptures. First, they are not that interested in Buddhism, and as the scriptures are in Chinese letters, only a few experts can read them.
In short, it is hard for them to realize their value, so their prices are lower than those of the other artifacts.
“It starts at 500 thousand dollars.”
Of course, people who showed interest in that scripture were mostly Asians. And among them, Chinese and Taiwanese people raised their paddle. However, Haejin thought it was a Korean artifact.
Sadly, the participant’s seats were quite far from the real artifact at the front, so he couldn’t just walk there.
Plus, even the guy with the red beard and his friend had left, if they came back and saw Haejin use magic, it would be bad. So, using magic was off the table.
Then, Haejin had to find out what it was with only his skills…
“Why? You want to bid for it?” Hassena, who hadn’t shown any interest in this artifact, asked.
“How did you know?
Hassena smiled and pointed at Haejin.
“Look at you. You are about to jump ahead!”
Haejin had been concentrating so hard that he was sitting in an awkward posture.
“Is it good?”
“Well, I am not sure yet…”
Hassena smiled and advised as if it wasn’t a problem.
“Then buy it first and find out later.”
What would it feel like to live so easily?
“It doesn’t look that expensive.”
While she was speaking as if it was nothing, the price was going over a million.
“You just heard that, right? A million. A million dollars is not that expensive?”
“Haha, then I will buy it for you.”
She raised her paddle before Haejin could say anything.
“You really don’t have to…”
“Think of it as a gift from me, to celebrate us finally meeting.”
“Oh… okay, then thank you.”
Haejin was about to refuse, but then he thought there was no reason to. He decided to take it. And honestly, her raising the paddle with such confidence was actually… charming.
Money can make anyone look charming, regardless of gender.
“4.8 million dollars! Is there more? If there isn’t, it is sold!”
The scripture, which had been estimated to be sold at a little over a million, because of a persistent pursuit from a Chinese person was sold to Hassena at 4.8 million.
That Chinese steamed in anger. He flinched at seeing Hassena and went away.
He probably had come to protest about a foreigner buying a Chinese artifact, but as it was Hassena, he gave up that idea.
After the auction, Hassena coolly paid for the artifacts and got them. Among them, Klimt’s painting was immediately sent to Abu Dhabi on a plane, and the golden brooch and the scripture were given to Haejin.
“They are both yours.”
The auction agency had made a case for the brooch. It looked like a glass case, but its surface was gold. Anyone could see a treasure was inside.
The scripture was also in a specially made case, so when Haejin took it carefully, he looked like a kid who had won at a swimming contest or something.
“Thank you. I guess you won’t accept it if I say I will pay back this debt?”
“It is my obligation to help you. Oh, and did you find out who my competitor was?”
“Of course. How could I not know when you stood up like that? But I couldn’t look back… who was it?”
“I don’t know who he was. He was just a white guy with a red beard.”
Hassena nodded and spoke to Saliyah in Arabic. Then, she turned to Haejin again.
“She asked my people. It is him.”
“What, you knew?”
“I told you. There were bodyguards in the auction room. They have been trained to check all of my main competitors. They don’t track them after an auction, but they check their basic information.”
“Then there was no need for me to sit up and check.”
“Actually, yes. But you had already stood up, so I couldn’t make you sit down again. I just watched, and I thought you might be able to see something we couldn’t.”
“And there was nothing much. Oh, right. That red-bearded guy talked to someone sitting next to him. It looked like he wasn’t joking with a stranger…”
Hassena talked to Saliyah again.
“Thank you. She will look into it. And…”
She pointed at the brooch and was about to speak, but then a man interrupted them.
“Hello. I am Jin Shyaomin of Shanghai Museum.”
Before Haejin could say anything, Saliyah blocked his way.
“She doesn’t talk to men. What is this about?”
Jin Shyaomin was surprised. He looked at Haejin and Hassena and then pointed at Haejin.
“But he just talked to her.”
“The royal family has given him special permission to talk to the princess.”
Jin Shyaomin knew about the strict rules of Islam. He sighed and took a step back.
“Okay. But you can speak to her for me, right?”
“Then please tell her this, what you have bought is a property of China. Why are you trying to keep it? Even if the person who offers the most gets to buy the artifact on auction, you can’t just suck in other’s artifacts with money like this. This could be an international problem. It is bad for your country’s reputation.”
Saliyah interpreted this into Arabic, but Hassena couldn’t say anything.
She had just bought it because Haejin cared about it, so what could she say?
Haejin used magic on the scripture first. If it was a Chinese artifact, he was planning to give it back after getting the money Hassena had spent on it. But…
Hassena apologized, but Jin Shyaomin raised his voice.
“An apology isn’t enough. You just took a record of our history and soul!”
Then, Haejin chimed in.
“I’m sorry, but this scripture isn’t from China.”
Jin Shyaomin’s eyes widened in surprise. He asked back as if it was nonsense, “What kind of nonsense is that? Haven’t you seen the catalog? Haven’t you heard what the auctioneer said?”
Unfortunately, they were wrong. Haejin had gotten it, thinking that it could be, but he was right. It was a Korean artifact. A very important Korean artifact.
“I have seen and heard, but they are wrong. Indeed, this is the scripture of Kṣitigarbha, but at the time, Koreans also used Chinese letters. If this was made in China, can you tell me who wrote this?”
Jin Shyaomin was shocked. He yelled, “What, what are you talking about? How on earth am I supposed to know that? You think there are one or two Buddhist scriptures of which the writer isn’t known?”
In fact, almost all Buddhist scriptures were written by unknown writers.
Buddhist scriptures are not created. They were passed down by copying preexisting scriptures, so transcribers rarely wrote their own names on it.
“But then, why do you think it is Chinese? If it is, there must be proof.”
Jin Shyaomin started to panic and sweat. There was no proof of his claim.
However, calling him a fool would be wrong since when an auction agency says that an artifact is assumed to have been made in this country and this period, few appraisers counter that so openly.
Additionally, with an artifact without the maker’s name like this one, almost no appraisers would take that risk.
Jin Shyaomin stretched out his hand.
“Fine. Then let me see it. I will appraise it, and if it isn’t from China, I will give it up.”
Actually, Haejin didn’t have to show it to him. However, he loved his country’s artifacts, and Haejin liked that. Therefore, he gave him the scripture.
He didn’t think Shyaomin would run away with it.
There were Hassena’s bodyguards, and Sotheby’s security guards were watching as well.
Jin Shyaomin carefully opened the case and knelt down. Then, he took out a pair of tweezers and started to examine.
It was an interesting scene, so people started to come and look one by one. Haejin didn’t like it and asked a Sotheby’s staff to ban photo shooting.
5 minutes passed and then 10 minutes. Jin Shyaomin remained silent. After 20 minutes, Hassena eventually asked.
“Hey, is there any proof that says it’s Chinese?”
Jin Shyaomin lifted his head to answer that question, but Saliyah glared at him and stood between him and the princess. So, he spoke to her instead.
“Not yet… but…”
“Then you can be sure of nothing.”
Saliyah spoke coldly. Jin Shyaomin was disappointed, but soon he turned to Haejin and raised his voice.
“But there’s no proof that says it’s Korean, either. Have you found any evidence that says so?”
He yelled with confidence, but Haejin replied calmly.
That was unexpected, and Jin Shyaomin asked with a trembling voice, “Where, where is it? I never…”
He couldn’t find it. Of course, there was no proof in that scripture.
Haejin carefully lifted it and said, “The proof is this scripture itself. Its letters are the proof.”
Jin Shyaomin immediately understood what he meant.
“Letters? You know this scripture’s handwriting?”
If the letters were the proof, it meant Haejin had recognized the handwriting, and it meant Haejin knew who had written it.
Haejin hadn’t been able to remember whose handwriting it was, but with magic, he could find out.
He had thought it looked familiar, but he hadn’t been able to remember. It was because he had seen that handwriting only once as a kid.
He was called the best calligrapher of the early Joseon period. His handwriting was clearly impressive, but Haejin had seen it only once. That’s why he couldn’t recognize it.
“Yes. This scripture was written by Prince Anpyeong, brother of Sejo.”