Sometime this year. The Posh Gallery, New York City. A man in his mid-thirties studies a piece on the wall. One of the Wall Street nouveau-riche, he looks to diversify his portfolio into art. The gallery owner approaches and stands beside him.
“A very good piece, don’t you think?” the owner comments. “A. Non-Y-Mous is one of our most popular artists.”
“Just what is it?” Nouveau-riche shares a confused look with Mr. Gallery.
“Oh, it is his latest.”
“But what is that thing. I mean, do you call it a thingamajig.”
“Actually it’s called ‘A Whatchamacallit’.” Gallery is proud to represent one of the up-and-comers of the current art scene. “It’s only one million dollars.”
“You mean you actually expect someone to pay a million bucks for that?”
“Oh, it was one hundred grand three days ago. The artist’s name is rising that fast. Much faster than Andy Warhol in his prime.”
The tailored suit is impressed but not impressed enough to bite the offer being handed him. “Well, it looks like a piece of shit to me.”
“No, sir. ‘Piece of Shit’ was A.Non-Y-Mous’ previous work. It sold for two million at auction.”
Nouveau shakes his head. He can’t believe what he is hearing. “And I thought Wall Street was one big scam.”
Gallery ignores the scam comment.”I can almost guarantee it will be up to four million by the end of the year.”
“This-this whatchamacallit looks like something I saw down the street.” The Wall Streeter frowns.
“That is why it is such an important work. It captures the essence of contemporary society. It has such panache. Yet it doesn’t force itself upon you with its dash of élan. Don’t you think?”
“I’m not so sure. When I’ve think of art, I think of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso.”
The owner waves away the thought. “Oh, sir, they are so passé. So démodé. So vieux jeu. No, this artist is so, how shall we say it. So current. One of the advanced cohort of a coming revolution in art.”
“You say one million?” The man is beginning to take the bait.
“Yes, sir. And I can assure you the piece will impress your colleagues. They will see that you are an up-and-coming collector. You are participating in something unique.”
“I am not so sure my wife will like it. Her snotty Ivy League friends are hard to impress.”
Gallery patiently instructs, “Oh, they will be very impressed. They will see you for the man of taste you are. And the benefit of this piece. It will fit in with any décor. Just look at the colors.”
“You think so?” Mr. Potential Customer takes a deep breath. “I would like to get in with that Fifth Avenue crowd she travels with.”
“Then this is just the thing. It is small enough to fit into the elevator of your apartment building but large enough to impress.”
The Wall Streeter decides. “Well, I suppose if one must, one must. I will take it. Can you have it delivered?”
“Yes, sir. Would tomorrow afternoon be good?”
“It will.” The buyer pays for the piece. “It’s for my wife’s birthday, you know.”
“She is indeed a fortunate woman to have such a discriminating husband.”
“Well, I don’t know about that.”
“Believe me, she will love the piece. The wives always do.”
“I hope you are right.”
The Wall Streeter walks out of the gallery, shaking his head and muttering, “Still looks like a piece of shit to me.”
The owner uncrosses his fingers and says under his breath, “P. T. was right. There is one born every minute.” Then he starts to hum, “Another one bites the dust.”