Chapter 81: Eight Weird Artists of Yangzhou (1)
“Please let me…”
Haejin didn’t believe that another fake would just pop up. He examined the photo.
As the background with the sunset was slightly darker, and the shadow stretched back to the end of
the painting, it was another one of the series.
“Where did you get this?”
“A while ago, I got an offer through someone I know. He said he would help me buy a Monet’s
painting at three billion.”
“Will help you to buy?”
What was that? It wasn’t like someone was openly selling a fake, but offering help to buy it?
“I couldn’t understand that well, but I did hope he was telling the truth. I wanted to have a Monet very
She wanted a three-billion-won painting, this meant she had at least tens of billions. FSS Chairman is
a government official, so Haejin wondered how she was that rich.
“I guess you’ve been interested in art for a long time if someone came to you to make an offer.”
She smiled awkwardly, she didn’t want to talk about herself again.
“My parents are quite rich.”
She wasn’t rich because of her husband, she was born with a silver spoon.
“Oh… anyway, do you want to find out if this painting belongs to Monet’s Haystacks series?”
“I was going to ask another appraiser but, after meeting you, an appraiser who owns a Monet’s
painting, I thought it wouldn’t be necessary to ask someone else.”
She had a good reason to think so.
“How do you normally buy western paintings?”
“I mostly buy them through huge galleries like Saeyeon, Haevici and, sometimes, I buy them from
smaller galleries. I also buy from individuals, but only once in a few years.”
“And you still think this kind of offer might be real?”
If she had suddenly struck it rich, Haejin could understand that. A chance to buy Monet’s painting
would be tempting enough.
However, according to what she said, the wealthy lady in front of him was someone who had seen
and bought many paintings. Yet, she was still thinking that she could buy a Monet personally, instead
of going to an auction…
Of course, it wasn’t absolutely impossible as there were cases like Jason Chang, but only a few
western paintings before the 20 th century had been brought to Korea. So, Monet’s painting going
around under the surface was suspicious enough.
“I know I look like a fool. However, someone has already bought a painting through this man.
Someone you know…”
“Who is it? Who’s that stupid person?” Haejin asked with a smirk as he thought it made no sense.
Hyeonjeong replied awkwardly, “Vice Chairman Lim Sungjun of Hwajin.”
In Korea, most people think those with wealth buy antiques for bad purposes.
As antiques can be quickly traded for money, and only those who are concerned know who the seller
is and who the buyer is, it can be used as secret funds. There’s no argument about that.
However, that’s not the only reason why they prefer antiques. They grow up seeing antiques and end
up caring about them.
The most important reason is that antiques are a great investment method. During the last ten years,
the profit rate from antique investment was more than 4 times higher than the real estate profit rate.
So, the people with money had to pay attention to antiques. Therefore, the media and dramas
describe rich people as very interested in antiques.
“If the Vice Chairman himself bought that painting, there must be something about it. I wouldn’t have
considered it if it had been someone else, but it is the Vice Chairman…”
However, only a few rich people have profound knowledge about art. Some of them have personal
appraisers like Oh Jaepil or a personal curator.
“Hmm… I am curious.”
If it had been someone else, Haejin would have scolded that person, but he thought people like
Sungjun or Haecheol of Yuseong wouldn’t be fooled by clumsy frauds.
Of course, Sungjun had bought Max Beckmann’s fake from the Haevici Gallery; however, as it was a
fake of great quality that even experts couldn’t figure out, Haejin could understand that.
“Then, will you help me?”
“I will if you officially ask, but my fee is a little higher compared to other appraisers’.”
“I take 1% of the artifact I appraise as my fee. If it turns out to be fake, I will still get 1% of the real
artifact’s price. So, if the artifact is fake, my fee can be even more expensive than the artifact itself.”
Hyeonjeong was so surprised that she covered her mouth. However, that was a normal reaction. It’s
just that Haejin’s former clients had accepted that coolly because they were all one of the wealthiest
people in the world.
“If that’s too much, it is okay to refuse…”
“No, it’s fine.”
Hyeonjeong was determined. 1% of three billion was thirty million. As she would have to spend that
money regardless of the painting’s authenticity, she must have given a lot of thoughts in that short
“Do you really mean it? You have to write a contract and pay 10% in advance. You’ll get no refund
even if you change your mind.”
Haejin had made a new appraisal contract after opening the museum and hiring the staff.
“Okay, I’ll do it.”
“Thirty million won is a big sum of money, are you sure?”
“I’ve heard about you on my way here. Although I didn’t get to find out about your fee, people say that
you are a great appraiser. So, I trust your help will be worth it.”
“Okay then, I’ll look forward to meeting this new Monet’s painting.”
They wrote the contract and Haejin got the down payment. After Hyeonjeong left, Haejin started to
plan a new exhibition with the silver cup and the buddha, which he had gotten at Abu Dhabi.
Lee Sangbeom’s painting should be shown in the Joseon Paintings exhibition with Kim Hongdo’s
painting… and as for the buddha, that had the smaller gold buddha which Hwajin wanted, Haejin
planned a Three Kingdoms special exhibition combined with the artifacts of Goguryeo, Baekje, and
Of course, these artifacts weren’t enough. Haejin was going to rent artifacts from other art museums
and exhibit them together.
Three days later, Hyeonjeong called him. She was going to meet the seller today.
Haejin immediately got on his car and went to the address she sent him. Then, Eunhae called him.
“Can you talk now?”
“Oh, yes. I’m driving, but I’m using my earphones, so it’s fine. What’s the matter?”
“I did what you told me. I signed a trade exhibition contract with the American Metropolitan museum’s
East Asia section. As it is none other than Metropolitan, they wouldn’t dare to change the deal.”
“That’s good news. And the other museums?”
“I sent offers to Egyptian and German art museums, and they both said okay. We will write contracts
“That’s fast. Is it okay for you to not go in person?”
“As for the Metropolitan, one of its people happened to be in Korea, so I solved that matter fast, and I
didn’t have to go to myself to sign contracts with the other museums. Normally, we visit each other to
check on the artifacts but, this time, I am offering to lease unconditionally, so they didn’t object. They
even offered to rent us some artifacts we don’t have!”
“Yes. From now on, even more visitors will come to Saeyeon Gallery. Well, the revenue is much more
important than the number of visitors…”
She sounded bitter.
“Did the board members say anything?”
“Haha! If they knew, they wouldn’t just sit by. They would be in my office by now, demanding me to
leave. No one knows yet. Even the staff don’t know, except for a few associates. I’m acting like a
secret agent at work these days.”
“Hahaha! You must be having a hard time.”
“That hard time is about to end. Everything will be revealed by the weekend.”
“What are you going to do after that?”
“I’m going to step down after that happens. I don’t want to be shown being dragged out like a dog in
front of the visitors and employees.
Eunhae still had Hwajin’s blood, and she was about to be treated like that… Haejin couldn’t
“Anyway, thank you. For helping me to finish without a catastrophe.”
“Then, buy me dinner later.”
“Of course. Although I’m about to lose my job, I’m still rich. I’ll treat you to a full-course dinner in a
great French restaurant.”
“Hahaha! Then I’ll look forward to it.”
Eunhae was probably not feeling good, but Haejin ended the call brightly.
In a way, she was still a rich girl who was about to quit her job because she couldn’t stand it. He didn’t
have to feel blue about her.
The address Hyeonjeong had given him was her house. She was living at a townhouse in Pangyeo.
That area was full of luxurious townhouses.
Haejin thought he should live at a place like that from now. He rang the doorbell and went in.
Hyeonjeong and two men in their 40s were standing in the living room.
“You’re here. You came earlier than I thought.”
“The traffic was good. These gentlemen are?”
“Yes, they’re here to sell the painting.”
“Oh… nice to meet you. I’m Park Haejin.”
Haejin used his bright social smile and bowed. They also smiled awkwardly.
“Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Cha Haeseok.”
“I’m art dealer Gong Sangdu.”
“Nice to meet you. I heard you offered a Monet to Mrs. Hyeonjeong and came with an excited heart.”
Haejin said that to see their reaction. Gong Sangdu, who had a red face as if he had been drinking,
scratched his back head.
“Really? Oh… but alas… Monet’s painting has been sold.”
“What? What do you mean?”
Haejin couldn’t understand, he then looked at Hyeonjeong. She looked slightly angry as she nodded.
“Yes. I just found out.”
“So, there will be no deal?”
“Oh, of course not. I have gotten another painting.”
He promoted using Monet’s painting and brought a different painting… this was a classic method of
real estate agents and car sellers: luring in clients with fake products.
It could be seen as elementary, Haejin could only smile. Cha Haeseok took something out of his bag.
Haejin wanted to see what he had and kept watching. Haeseok took out a painting container that was
as big as a grown man’s upper body. Then, he took a painting out of it. However, the paper wasn’t
“Well… you shouldn’t be disappointed.”
He carefully fixed the ends of the painting with paperclips and slowly rolled it down.
Haejin had been watching with a sneer, but he couldn’t help exclaiming. Sangdu looked at him and
spoke in a low voice.
“Although the price of a painting by Wang Sasin is cheaper than Monet’s painting, you cannot say that
its depth is also cheaper.”