Chapter 173 – Appraiser Talks through Appraising (2)
Haewon probably didn’t mean to do this from the beginning. If she had planned to do so, Haejin would have already found out what they were up to with magic.
However, she came with a different painting, so she must have changed her mind while talking to her friend and her appraisers.
“No, it’s nothing. Is there any reason why you decided to have this reappraised?” Haejin asked.
Haewon was so nervous that she couldn’t look at Haejin straight in the eyes, “I… couldn’t be sure about… making a decision after only one appraisal…”
Haejin then said, “Really? But I am going to appraise this loudly, would that be okay?”
“What? Loudly? What do you mean?” Haewon asked.
Haejin answered, “I am going to call a lawyer and a reporter. To promote this museum and myself as this has happened… how is that? Isn’t that what you wanted?”
Haewon panicked, and so did her greedy friend.
“Hey, why are you going to call the reporters? Do you think it is right to promote yourself with someone else’s private property?” The woman objected.
However, Haejin replied as if it was nothing, “Isn’t that what you need? This painting must be concluded as fake for Mrs. An, so that her husband wouldn’t be accused… isn’t that right?”
Then Haewon spoke, “Yes, but I think calling the reporters is too much.”
“Too much… then you don’t think it is too much to bring a group of appraisers just because you couldn’t believe what I told you about the painting?” Haejin scolded her.
Haewon, however, raised her voice as well, “I am sorry, but isn’t raising a reasonable doubt to your appraisal part of a legal procedure?”
Haejin had asked that because he wanted to find out if Haewon was doing this because she wanted to, or she was just being controlled by others.
However, her attitude made it clear. Haejin had no more reason to be nice to her. “It is legal and just. That is why I am tolerating all this fuss,” Haejin replied firmly.
Haewon hesitated and took a step back.
Then, her friend spoke for her, “You are so eager to get humiliated. Fine, call them! You think we will be scared?”
Haejin had Eunhae called the reporters and the lawyer. Then, he replied, “I am not calling them for you to be scared, but I guess you are doing something bad.”
“Of, of course not!” The woman replied.
“Whatever. They will be here in half an hour. Let’s start when they arrive.” Haejin then sat down on a chair with his arms crossed. The others also decided to sit down.
Eunhae then came closer and whispered to him, “Are you going to be okay?”
“Oh, yes. However, she brought a different painting,” Haejin whispered back.
“What? She switched the painting?” Eunhae’s eyes widened in surprise, but as she had her back toward the others, only Haejin could see that.
“Yes, I’m shocked as well, but… why are they doing this? Can there be any reason for them to do this? I don’t understand,” Haejin calmly shook his head.
Eunhae then quickly asked, “That’s not what matters now. They have switched the painting! The lawyer and reporters are on their way now. What if that painting is considered fake? Then you will have to take the blame!” Eunhae was getting mad, but she managed to lower her voice so that the others wouldn’t be able to listen.
“It’s fine, I’ll take care of it. But more than that… you should go out and try to find out what the prime minister is doing for them to be so eager to bring him down,” Haejin replied.
“What? Is that necessary when his wife is so clearly working with them?” Eunhae asked.
Haejin then explained, “I’m sure she hasn’t discussed it with her husband yet. If he had known about this, he would have never allowed her to do this. Anyway, I think she is the only one who doesn’t know she is bringing her husband’s doom. They even said a Japanese consul is involved in this. I think something bad is going on here, like that professor who openly accused me at Gimhae… so please, try to find out more.”
Eunhae nodded although she didn’t seem very happy about it, “Okay. I don’t like it because I’m not interested in helping her, but I’ll try to find out.”
“It’s not about helping her. I must know what is going on to decide what to do about it,” Haejin replied.
“Hu… first, I’ll find out what Japan has to do with this,” Eunhae said before leaving the room. After that, a strange silence filled the room.
The tension was surrounding the painting on the table in the middle, and the appraisers were looking at it, murmuring among themselves.
“The touch of the brush is too nasty. It can’t be Renoir’s.”
“Look here, the transparent dress hasn’t been depicted well. The artist failed to get the right depth of the color. He couldn’t have been a real artist.”
“More than that, the structure isn’t right, and the ballerina’s expression is too stiff. You are right, it can’t be Renoir’s.”
They all spoke as if they were competing amongst themselves.
It looked like they were trying to prove their skills. Therefore, they did their best to find all the flaws.
Of course, that only looked ridiculous to Haejin.
‘What? Nasty touch of the brush? Wrong depth of the color? Strange structure? Oh, please.’
Surprisingly, the fake painting Haewon brought was a forgery of high quality. It was as good as the forgery he had seen at the Medici’s mansion before.
He wouldn’t have been so sure of it being fake that quickly if he hadn’t seen the real painting before. This fake must have been brought from abroad.
What was strange was that if they had the forger make a fake while looking at the real painting and then brought the two paintings at the same time, it meant that they had been designing a plot to bring down the prime minister from the very beginning.
Anyway, Haejin was sure that it was fake for only one reason. Its size.
It was slightly smaller than the real painting he had seen yesterday.
He didn’t know if it was because the frame had been changed many times or there was another reason, but it was smaller.
However, the ballerina in the painting was of the same size, so its edges had been cut. If it had been someone else, he or she wouldn’t have been able to notice it.
It was only possible because they had targeted Haejin.
At last, the appraiser who used to be close with Eunhae just watched the painting from behind.
He seemed to know that boasting like the other appraisers would only make him look funny.
Anyway, soon Eunhae came in with two men.
Haejin had seen the lawyer of the law firm his museum was on a contract with, so he recognized him. The other man, who he had never seen before, had to be the reporter.
“You sure this will be okay?” Eunhae whispered to Haejin.
“Of course… as they are our guests, we should get them something to drink and start,” Haejin replied.
“Okay, I believe in you,” Eunhae then had an employee bring juice and stood behind Haejin.
Haejin greeted the lawyer and the reporter and started to talk about the matter, “First, Mrs. An here has officially raised a doubt about my appraisal. You think it is fake, right?”
Haewon nodded, but she looked nervous, “Yes, I do. I bought this knowing that it was fake, and I don’t want to be falsely accused because of you.”
If not being accused was what she really wanted, she should have asked her friend for a refund.
Plus, she had bought it as fake, so returning it without getting the money back wouldn’t have cost her much, so Haejin couldn’t understand why she was taking it this far.
“Okay then, I will reappraise it. Your appraisers should also appraise it with me,” Haejin replied.
“Khmm… well, as we are here to help, we can’t just sit by,” Kim Chaemu cleared his throat and came out as if he was reluctant to help.
“Thank you,” Haejin, however, wasn’t grateful at all, he just needed some extras to make Haewon and her friend pay.
Haejin went to the painting and asked Chaemu, “You said this was fake, right?”
Chaemu nodded confidently as if Haejin was asking something obvious, “Of course.”
“Then could you tell me what flaws it has?” Haejin made him talk first.
Chaemu then said what he had discussed with the other appraisers earlier, “To start with, the slightly tilted structure isn’t right, and so is the balance of the face. And the background is too dark to be Renoir’s. He preferred brilliant colors.”
“Oh, and?” Haejin encouraged him.
Chaemu looked at Haejin, probably wondering if he was mad, and continued, “The most important thing is that the depth of the color isn’t right. This was made by a crude forger. Pathetic…”
He tutted and shook his head.
“Wow… that was impressive,” Haejin then said.
“I have no choice but to doubt your skills. You said this is real. How could you even issue a certificate when you know so little? It is ridiculous. Oh, and have you registered to Korea Appraisal Committee? If you want to issue certificates, you should officially register to the committee first. Of course, it will take some time before we grant that. Only skillful appraisers can become our members.” Next, Chaemu looked at the lawyer and the reporter then said, “This lady here has done nothing wrong. It’s all on this man who appraised wrongly.”
He even concluded the matter.
Haejin’s lawyer worriedly asked Haejin, “Are you sure this is the right appraisal of the painting?”
Haejin smiled and nodded, “Although the reason is slightly different, this painting is fake.”
“What? Really?” The lawyer was about to ask what he was doing, but Haewon’s friend spoke before he could, “You pretended to be so innocent when you called the lawyer. What, you are too scared to lie in front of a lawyer and a reporter? You shouldn’t have lied. I will not let you get away with this.”
However, Haein didn’t lose his smile. Instead, he spoke to Haewon, “Ma’am, you’ve made a mistake.”
“What? I don’t understand…”
“Did you really think I would not be able to recognize this is a different painting?” Haejin asked.
Haewon took a step back. She was shaking, “I, I…”
Haejin pointed at the ceiling above the painting, “You see, there’s a camera up there. It has recorded the painting I appraised yesterday. This isn’t that painting. The video will prove it.”
Haewon, her friend, and Chaemu all froze. They couldn’t say anything now.
Haejin smiled and used magic to see the story behind the fake painting.
It was because he wanted to know what Haewon actually thought about the switching of the paintings, but…
He quickly turned and glared at the appraiser who was standing behind Chaemu.
‘You were after me, not the prime minister?’