Monday, January 23, 2006

Based on a True Story

Antiques and Antiquities. I collect them, but I also buy and sell them. Twice per month I am a regular fixture at the auction house near my apartment. The day before the auction I show up to the viewing to plot my strategy. The next morning I show up early and sit down for an eight hour battle with other dealers and collectors.

In the beginning I had no problems winning rare English porcelain statuettes and pre-Columbian Aztec terra- cotta figures at low prices. Until...he showed up.

He was a swarthy looking man. About 5' 8" tall, 50 years old, thick black hair, thick black mustache, olive skin and toting three shopping bags. He sat down three rows in front of me. My lots were called out, and as if he had stolen my playbook, began to bid on everything I wanted.

I bid $50, he bid $75. I bid $125, he bid $150. And the auctioneer called out, "another lot for Mr. Ferer Casablancas." Ferer? And so it went on. Lot after lot he outbid me and won my treasures.

Two weeks later, the same thing, two weeks after that, the same thing.

Oh, how many were the nights when I tossed and turned and mumbled the name, "Ferer Ferer, Ferer."

I had to do something, things were getting desperate, he was ruining my cash cow. And he bought so much, what could he be doing with it all? Was he a dealer? A collector?

So one evening I followed him home. I tracked him on the F train out to Rego Park, Queens, a neighborhood much like Archie Bunker's in look and feel. I watched him ascend the stairs.

I quietly slipped in behind him and went upstairs. He opened the door and I saw a large dusty room. Like a basement storage room in a museum, I spied thousands of objects on the floor, on shelves, on the walls, on the tables. With barely space to walk. Then in the corner, I saw her. An old woman in a dusty dress sitting in her chair knitting. She was Mrs. Haversham incarnate.

"Mother, I'm home. And I've got more for you. Look, its the 15th Royal Doulton "Spring Morning" porcelain statue for your collection. And look here a Chippendale chair, and look, fine Chinese jade statues. And look a lapis-lazuli paperweight from Burundi.

"Oh my dear boy" she said. You have done well today. "Remember my boy, someday this will all be yours and you too shall sit in this chair."

I turned and ran down the stairs. For this? For this my kingdom is crumbling? IT shall not be so!

The day of the next auction came and I had some "businessmen" from Brooklyn (recommended to me by one of the auction house delivery men) approach him as he left the house he shared with the hag.

From what was later related to me, they knocked his ass to the ground, broke his leg, beat him about the head and face and told him he better find a new auction. "You understand motherfucker? Stay in yer own hood. Keep out or next time you and momma gonna take a dirt nap. You dig?" "You're no longer needed in Manhattan."

Sure enough that day and two weeks later, Ferer didn't show up. Few people bid on my treasures and I was back on track to my first antiques million.

Disclaimer: No swarthy, vaguely Latin American momma's boy, antique buyers were harmed during production of this post.