“My appraiser is good with paintings as well… why are you so confident?”
Yaerin couldn’t let Eunhae just have it. She raised her paddle while glancing at Eunhae.
“Four hundred and forty million. Oh, four hundred and sixty million over there.”
The price was doubling the opening bid and was still soaring.
“You want this painting?”
Eunhae looked at Yaerin as if she was annoyed by her who kept raising her paddle.
“I thought about it, and it looks fine…”
“Hu… then will you have it?”
Eunhae stopped in the middle of raising her paddle and hesitated.
Yaerin flinched as she was the last to raise the paddle. She had spent an additional billion on
spontaneously buying that white porcelain, so she couldn’t spend more money easily.
“What? You think it is not good?”
“Five hundred and forty million! Is there more?”
Eunhae hesitated at the chief auctioneer’s last check and raised her paddle.
Eunhae sighed. Yaerin could not follow her anymore.
“Oh, you are about to make a hole on the floor with your sigh. Okay, you can have it. You will need it
to have less empty spaces at your exhibition. You cannot have people stare at the walls!”
“Five hundred and sixty million! Is there more? If there isn’t then the bidding ends. It has been sold at
five hundred and sixty million to customer No.153!”
People clapped. Eunhae smiled brightly for the first time today and thanked everyone. Her smile
made a warm breeze fill the room but, in one spot, it was still cold.
“Congratulations. You managed to get one.”
Eunhae was about to say something when Haejin chimed in.
“Congratulations. You got the second best thing in today’s auction.”
Yaerin and her appraiser flinched. That meant excluding the jade buddha, the painting Eunhae just
bought was the best of the rest.
Yaerin couldn’t help but get curious and said, “I admit it that it is less valuable than the jade buddha
but, are you saying what you just bought is the best apart from it?”
“You know it well. Congratulations on getting the jade buddha. Your parents will be delighted.”
Haejin didn’t strongly recommend it to Eunhae because it would be too expensive as Yaerin wanted it,
but its meaning was also not fit for a museum.
If it ends up in a museum, people would just think ‘That’s the meaning’. However, Haejin believed it
had to be kept at home and cherished to carry out the meaning of wishing for the children’s safety and
well-being of the parents who made it.
The moment Yaerin heard it, she frowned. As he said, the jade buddha’s value would truly be
appreciated at home but, if she put that in the gallery after spending five billion on it, it would be
corrupting the buddha’s meaning.
“I am a devoted daughter, so…”
Eunhae looked down and let out a ‘pup!’ sound. She couldn’t stop laughing.
“Oh, sorry… I was thinking about something else. I know you are a devoted daughter. I remember
your grandfather bemoaning to my grandfather. He said he couldn’t even die because he was so
worried about you… he will certainly live long thanks to you.”
These two were always ready to pierce each other whenever they saw a weak spot.
“Of course. He would have died ten years early if it wasn’t for me. So, he’s still alive. I call him every
day. That’s the pleasure of his life. He loves me so much! Well… the only thing you got from your
grandfather is your gallery, so you must not know this kind of feeling.”
“My grandfather also loved me!”
Eunhae spoke coldly and looked forward again. Yaerin glared at her and looked forward to seeing the
auction proceed. She had lots of things to say, but as the auction was still going, she held it back.
About five minutes later, the auction ended. The chief auctioneer’s forehead was sweating as she had
spent an energetic day. She lightly bowed at Yaerin and Eunhae.
“Ms. Yaerin, Ms. Eunhae, nice to see you again…”
They had come so often that the auctioneer greeted them.
“I couldn’t buy much today.”
Eunhae spoke, a little embarrassed, and the auctioneer became nervous.
“Why do you say that? Our appraisers said that the landscape painting of the unknown artist is a good
“Of course, my jade buddha is the most valuable, right?”
“Haha, I cannot say anything about that as I am not an appraiser, but it went through the fiercest
competition and was sold at the highest price. It would mean everyone acknowledges it.”
Yaerin didn’t show her victorious smile at this indirect acknowledgment. Haejin’s ‘your parents would
be delighted’ kept ringing in her head.
So, she took out that subject again.
“This man here said that painting is the second most valuable artifact, right after the jade buddha. Is it
Oh Jaepil’s face hardened at this. As Yaerin had spoken in front of so many people, someone would
be humiliated. It was inevitable now.
However, he just slightly shook his head and didn’t try to stop Yaerin. Probably because he knew her
“Well, I can’t…”
The chief auctioneer was saved not by Eunhae or Haejin but by a third person.
“Oh, aren’t you that young man who told us that story about the jade buddha?”
She was a woman in her 40s sitting behind Eunhae. Judging from her clothes and accessories, she
was quite rich.
“Ah, you are the one who told the history of the jade buddha. Nice to meet you. Our appraisers only
found out that there are rings in the buddha thanks to you. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the book
but, as they’ve never seen the jade rings inside the jade buddha, they admitted you were right. We
saw the record of the CCTV and wanted to contact you, but we couldn’t as it would have been rude.”
It made Yaerin’s and Jaepil’s face darken. That jade buddha was an embarrassment to them.
“It’s okay, that was nothing… anyway, there were many good things on today’s auction. Especially the
landscape painting of Lee Inmun…”
“What? Lee Inmun’s painting? There was no Lee Inmun’s painting on today’s auction!”
The chief auctioneer looked puzzled. At that moment, a low exclamation came out of Jaepil’s mouth
that had been shut tight all the time.
“What? What is it?”
Yaerin was surprised to see this unusual reaction. Haejin casually answered the auctioneer’s
“The painting we bought, that’s Lee Inmun’s. Didn’t you know?”
Lee Inmun was a famous artist of the late Joseon period. He was of the same age as Kim Hongdo.
He left many landscape paintings of utopia. He was so good at drawing people, birds, animals and
grapes that Sin Wui said he and Kim Hongdo were equals.
The painting had been labeled unknown artist, so the appraisers didn’t know it was Lee Inmun’s, and
Haejin knew that. He was asking because his target was Yaerin, not the auctioneer.
“Not at all… could you wait for a while?”
The auction was over, but the chief auctioneer couldn’t let that go. She hastily left.
The woman behind Eunhae lightly grabbed Haejin’s shoulder.
“I didn’t get to talk to you before. It’s nice to see you again. I am Do Eunchae. I own a small
“Oh, yes. Hello.”
Haejin thought the small accommodations business meant a motel, but Eunhae smiled and spoke.
“Oh, you must be Executive Director Do Eunchae of Palas Hotel. Hello, I am Lim Eunhae of Saeyeon
“I’ve heard a lot about you. You sent many invitations to my husband. He, however, doesn’t know
much about this kind of thing. So, I went to your exhibitions alone a few times.”
“You should have told me in advance.”
“Uh… that would be noisy. I like to be quiet. This young man let me know something I loved, so I
wanted that jade buddha, but I gave up because it got too expensive.”
“Haha, me too. I couldn’t spend five billion….”
Now Yaerin, who had gotten the buddha, was feeling awkward.
Eunchae realized it and smiled.
“Talking about things I couldn’t buy on auction is no good. I am curious. How did you know that
painting is Lee Inmun’s? Korea Auction said it was of an unknown artist, so the appraisers here didn’t
Haejin was about to talk about it when the chief auctioneer returned with a man over 50s in hurry.
That man had little hair, and that made him more trustworthy. It made him look like an expert.
“Hello. I am Jeong Gangseok, eastern paintings appraiser of Korea Auction. Are you the man who
said No.81 painting of the unknown artist is actually Lee Inmun’s?”
“Yes, I said so.”
“May I ask with what evidence you said so?”
Now, most of the people who had participated in the auction came around them in curiosity.
“Do you know Lee Inmun’s Quiet Mountains and the Sun series?”
“How can I not know? Then, this is the missing part of it?”
Lee Inmun’s Quiet Mountains and the Sun series is one of his early works. He drew it based on the
scholars of China’s Southern Song period, Na Daejeong’s Living in Mountains.
That poem was about the pleasure of living in mountains, so it became a subject favored by the late
Joseon scholars who wanted to live quietly in nature.
Lee Inmun took verses of Living in Mountains and drew 8 paintings. The second, fourth, seventh, and
eighth remain and the other four have gone missing.
“The uniqueness of Lee Inmun’s landscape paintings are famous. The solid and angled shape made
by a delicate touch and the fresh, clean atmosphere were his style and strong point, and they are
here in this painting. Additionally, as you can see, the pine tree is light and dark crossed. It is writhing
as if Lee Inmun is saying ‘I drew this’.”
Jeong Gangseok wiped off the sweat on his bald head and carefully asked.
“Yes, but this is not enough to say that Lee Inmun drew this…”
Jaepil interrupted before he even finished.
“It is not enough. You know we cannot be sure with that.”
He didn’t like Haejin being so confident about something that he couldn’t appraise. Now, convincing
with a talk was not going to work.
“Bring me the painting. I will show you the evidence.”
Gangseok had no reason to hesitate. He quickly called an employee and told him to bring the
painting. It came in less than five minutes.
Haejin pointed at the top end part of the painting, which was some empty space.
“See here? If you see this and still cannot know this is part of Lee Inmun’s Quiet Mountains and the
Gangseok studied the part with a magnifying glass. Then, he abruptly stood up and looked at Haejin
with trembling eyes.
“Gaebyeon (Strolling on a Stream Bank)…”