Which was the country Haejin had frequently visited the most? China, of course. Each region in China
had a different culture, and because of the Chinese’s obsession with size, the size of the tombs and
the number of artifacts buried in them were considerably huge.
However, did Haejin know all of the local dialects in China? No. He just had to know the basic
sentences and accents of each dialect and the professional terms needed for excavating and
appraising. So, it was only natural that Haejin could understand the Wu language.
“Are you sure?”
Eunhae’s hand was slightly shaking as she raised her paddle. Unlike before, the price was not rising
so fast, so she was feeling that she could win.
It was because the people heard that the Rembrandt painting was a fake.
They didn’t hear that Haejin was the man who had found that out, but they were stirring to know
whether Tom Keating’s fake was here.
“Yes, I’m certain.”
Haejin clearly heard it. There is a worn part at the left end of the painting… hoping for a centuries old
painting to be in perfect condition might be asking for too much since paintings often get damaged.
However, if it was a fake from Tom Keating, he would never have left a part like this. He was not an
ordinary forger. He was a snake who made traps and waited for preys.
His goal was more than to just sell paintings and earn money. He wanted to subvert the art world, so
until the critics and appraisers were certain that the painting was a fake, he would polish them in their
best condition. So, he never laid a hand on a finished painting.
Although the price kept going up, the mood was a little tired now. Even though this place was about
exciting fortune and fame for getting real items by taking risks, Tom Keating’s influence was big
enough to make everyone, in the art world, freeze.
After the six million dollars mark, only the Chinese next to the man with a mini binocular and Eunhae
raised their paddles.
The Chinese had also been sure that the painting was real because of the minor damage, but she
was hesitating while raising her paddle. Eunhae kept persistently raising hers and finally heard what
“Sold at seven million and three hundred dollars. Finally, this beautiful lady is given to another
beautiful lady. I would say it is perfect for you. Congratulations.”
Eunhae lightly bowed and winked at Yaerin who crossed her arms and pouted. Then, she sat down.
The Chinese who missed the painting stood up, turned around and congratulated Eunhae in English.
She was over 50 and, although she was small, her eyes were very sharp.
“Congratulations. Oh… aren’t you Director Lim Eunhae of Saeyeon Gallery?”
“Oh, Director Baiming of Shanghai Gallery! You haven’t come for a few years, so I thought you were
not coming again.”
“Actually, I was going around other places and went back to Shanghai Gallery earlier this year. I
wondered who the annoying person was that kept raising the paddle; if I knew that it was you, I would
have given up earlier.”
“So, you should have turned back and looked at me! Hoho.”
“Hohoho! I really should have.”
“But, haven’t you given up too early?”
“I got a great object in Hong Kong about a month ago. It was over thirty billion dollars in Korean won,
so I couldn’t spend more here. Anyway, congratulations on getting Renoir’s painting. I now have
another reason to go to Saeyeon Gallery.”
“Oh, I remember. It was on the news a while ago. The porcelain of the Song period that was sold at
over thirty billion at Christie’s. I wish I could see that porcelain. I have seen the photos, but the feeling
we get when seeing artifacts with our own eyes is different.”
“You are right. You are always welcome.”
They sat down again. Eunhae then turned to Haejin again.
“You sure it is real?”
Haejin could understand why she was asking again. He laughed.
“It is. The man next to the Director of Shanghai Gallery you just talked to said… that man with the
small binoculars. If I had known such a thing, I should have gotten one…”
As he spoke, he suddenly started to envy that man. If he had that, he wouldn’t have to be so
“You said you have a good eyesight? Better than Mongolians…”
“Khmm… but having that would be even better. Even I cannot see everything and can make
Eunhae thought he was right. She nodded.
“I’m sorry. I will get you one later. Anyway, so?”
“He said the left end of the painting is worn out. I think the painting was damaged when they changed
the frame, and Tom Keating would never make this mistake.”
“Why? He can also make mistakes.”
“He can. However, he would never damage a painting that he will show to others. I recalled other
forgers who can make fakes of this quality, but none of them would make this kind of mistake.
Although it is for a different reason from Tom Keating’s, most forgers make fakes and want them to be
appraised as real for money. Therefore, why would they damage a painting and damage its value? if
the damaged part is big, people will try to restore it, they might then find out that it’s a fake.”
“Hmm… but you don’t mean that all damaged paintings are real, right?”
“Haha, you are right. However, there are only a few people in this world who can make forgeries of
this high quality that even I cannot guess its authenticity by looking at its photo or from this distance.
Those few people would also never lay their hands on the canvas of a finished painting.”
“Oh… I get it. As I trust you, I will believe it is real.”
“I can check the details if I can get to see it close. When can we get it?
“After the auction. I will pay the price and get the painting.”
Eunhae’s face was much lighter now, as she had taken care of the heavy and difficult business. So
was Haejin’s. It was not his money but billions of other’s. If he had made a mistake, his fame and his
future cases would have been gone.
As for the auction of Degas’ painting that followed, Eunhae and Haejin watched in comfort with the
paddle put to the side. The auction ended and when Eunhae was about to pay the money they heard
noises coming from outside. Steaming, Eric Holton, with a red face, came in with the guards.
“I know! I know! I will pay anyway! Can’t you understand? I have the money!”
Eric took out the check and shook it. He went forward. The auctioneer waved his hand at the guards.
“Let him go. He seems to have something to say.”
One of the guards answered with concern.
“He is upset, saying his painting is fake…”
“It’s fine. So, please let his arm go first. We cannot bruise the major shareholder of Face Note.”
The guard let Eric go. He straightened his clothes and went to the auctioneer.
“There is a problem with the painting I won. I want a refund.”
This is what Haejin had thought might happen, but now, as he was seeing it with his own eyes, he
found it very interesting. How would the hosts handle this situation?
“A problem… interesting. You mean it’s fake?”
“It certainly is.”
“Good. Bring the painting.”
An employee brought Rembrandt painting that Eric had won. It was still impressive.
The crowd had seen it from afar during the auction but, as it was all over now, they got interested in
what was going on and came to see the painting.
“This is a fake? I cannot believe it.”
People shook their heads in disbelief, but Eric pointed at the small gnarl hole at the bottom part of the
“Look here. It is a very small but a very delicately drawn circle. It is a tire. This tire didn’t exist during
Rembrandt’s time, so this has to be Tom Keating’s forgery.”
“Yes, it is very cunning. Is it really Tom Keating’s?”
People stirred but, unlike them, the auctioneer studied that gnarl hole and spoke as if it wasn’t a
“It might look that way. However, you cannot conclude this painting is Tom Keating’s because of that.”
Of course, Eric was enraged at this.
“I cannot conclude? I cannot conclude with the clear truth, what kind of nonsense is that?”
The auctioneer was in trouble. He couldn’t say anything. If Eric had protested later, he could have
said that Eric was the one who made that choice and get over with it. However, now that it had been
revealed he had sold a fake in front of so many people, he couldn’t do what he usually did.
As he had admitted things were bad, Eric’s face had confidence as he claimed the painting was a
fake. Then, the auctioneer made a decision and sighed.
“Hu… I have no choice. You said this is Tom Keating’s fake? Then, we’ll have to clean the painting. If
the painting melts, it is a fake and, if it doesn’t, it’s real.”
Now, Eric Holton was trapped. It was clearly a fake but, if the paint didn’t melt, he would lose the ten
million dollars painting and not get his money back.
Although Tom Keating was famous for setting the time bomb in his paintings, he didn’t apply glycerin
on every painting. So, this one could be a fake without glycerin.
Eric looked at Haejin who was watching with his arms crossed.
However, Haejin had no way to help him. He had given him the proof, so he had done everything he
could. The choice was up to Eric Holton.
He bit his lips. Finally, he lifted a bottle of luxury wine that was worth hundreds of dollars and smiled at
“Hu… I have no other way. People always have to choose. It was like this when I bought Face Note.
This is another moment for a choice.”
He drank from the bottle a few times and poured the remaining wine on the painting.