Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Lu Guan had excellent abilities to obtain information. Very soon, he had managed to gain enough knowledge to understand the situation at Sunshine Jazz Estate.
The previous owner of the estate was Black Crocodile Beak, nicknamed Big Devil. He was in control of the largest gang, Dripping Blood Gang, in Saint Monica.
At the beginning of this year, the police raided Dripping Blood Gang’s office building and found banned products, illegal weapons, and many smuggled goods. In addition, they found a large number of proofs of their tax evasion. The gang leader, Back Crocodile Beakk, was then sent to prison.
Black Crocodile Beakk had actually been involved in another murder case. However, as he had been cautious, the police did not manage to find direct evidence pointing to him. Hence, he managed to escape unscathed.
In Santa Monica, many people were jealous of that man. Those who had set their sights on the house were merely businessmen. They were even more afraid of provoking the Black Crocodile Beak and the Dripping Blood gang. Hence, after receiving warnings, they gave up on their ambitions for the manor.
At the auction, Li Du did not leave people behind at the manor. Hence, he did not get the information in time.
However, when he heard about the news, he was unafraid anyway. Initially, he had not known what was going on. Because of the unknown, he had been confused. Now that he understood the cause and effect, he did not find it scary anymore.
Li Du was not afraid of the gang. He had had conflicts with numerous gangs previously. In fact, he had even dealt with armies. There was nothing truly intimidating in them. They were only good at scaring off the common people.
Snyder had helped him with the paperwork for the manor. One could not take a bank loan for an auctioned house and had to purchase it in full cash. That was another reason why the price was lower.
Li Du had enough funds on him. The balance in his account had remained above one hundred million for several years now. Largely thanks to the output of the diamond mine, the growth of his funds had sped up.
The two items on which he spent most money were the development of Seagull Island and the funding of Remonin.
On the other hand, he had much more avenues that made him money. Lightning Ridge produced black opal, the Amengda mine produced diamonds, and then there were warehouse auctions, and the ivory and whale bones he got from his adventures. In addition, he had found a gold treasure recently and also made more money from working with the Tavisi tribe.
The procedure for transferring the auctioned house deed was fast. The government provided special preferential treatment in this aspect. Perhaps because they wanted to get the cash quickly by turning the house over, Li Du received the deed very soon after paying up.
Snyder suggested that he should not rush to sell the house, but simply renovate it and then rent it out for a year and a half before selling it off.
The interior of auction houses was often poor. In order to vent their anger, the former owners would often hack away wall panels, peel off wallpaper, tear kitchen cabinet doors off their hinges, and destroy the piping.
Therefore, the house was unlikely to fetch a high price if sold as it was. Hence, it would be best to carry out the renovation first, rent it out for a period of time after the renovation, and then sell it. By that time, the interior would be new enough but would have traces of use, a condition which was the most popular in the market as it evoked reliability.
Li Du left this work to Snyder who had helped him to process all the paperwork smoothly. He was an experienced, well-connected man in the trade. Li Du was willing to hire him to help him take care of the house he just bought.
He would not be selling off the manor then. After receiving the keys, Li Du got ready to move in.
Li Du hired a housekeeping company to clean up the house. The lawn needed to be trimmed, the groves needed to be put in order, and the vineyard and the small farm needed to be shaped up.
That was not a small job. Just tidying up the entire manor would cost him a couple of thousand. With that sum, he would be able to purchase a modest auctioned estate.
The tidying up would take one week and during that period, Li Du went to settle something else.
Before the auction, Li Du had been interested in not only the manor but also another bungalow. Or rather, he was interested in something inside the bungalow.
It was a sculpture of two men. Specifically, it had a marble floor, a marble basketball hoop, and two basketball players wearing shirts with the numbers 34 and 8 respectively.
The sculpture was practically life-sized. Those who were into basketball would know that it was a sculpture of two top American basketball pros, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles had a super team in the US professional basketball league, The Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal and Bryant used to be the aces of that team. The two had teamed up to win three consecutive championships for the Lakers.
However, those two people were superstars who had a lot of pride and ambition. In the end, because of an underhand trick that the team owner played, and the character of those two players, they eventually parted ways on court and put an end to their teamwork.
Previously, when Li Du checked out the bungalow, he had found the statue amongst the mess in the chaotic basement. The sculpture was definitely the work of a master. The marble statue was extremely realistic and valuable, and worth more than the entire house.
The sculptor did not want to use it to make money; otherwise, he would have sold it a long time ago instead of keeping it in the basement.
There were some words engraved on the marble base, describing the reason for making the statue and why it was left behind.
The sculptor was a basketball fan. As a Los Angeles resident, he was naturally a loyal supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers. His favorite players were the Lakers aces, Kobe and O’Neal.
After the Lakers won the third championship, the sculptor had the idea of making a statue for the group and wanted to celebrate the team’s success in creating a legacy.
However, just a year later, before the sculpture was finished, Kobe and O’Neal had fallen out. The latter transferred to other teams, and the Los Angeles Lakers fell into a trough.
As a loyal supporter of the team, the sculptor was very upset, but he endured the pain to complete the statue, in the hope that one day his two favorite stars would be able to resolve their conflict and team up again.
He left a message on the marble floor, hoping to wait for the day to come. He would then gift the statue to the Lakers and make it into a good story.
However, for unknown reasons, the sculptor did not return. The sculpture stayed in the dark basement until Li Du discovered it.
Li Du guessed that the sculptor must have been very upset. Now O’Neal had retired and it would be impossible for him to team up with Kobe ever again.
In addition, Kobe had, in the first half of this year when playing against the Golden State Warriors, injured his heel in the game. It was a very serious injury, and outsiders speculated that he might also retire.
Previously, Li Du had called up Kobe to express his wishes for a speedy recovery. However, Kobe was a stubborn and proud person. He did not need consolation. Li Du was unsure what happened to him later.
If he got the sculpture, he felt that he would be able to gift it to either Kobe or O’Neal. The two fell out big time that year. However, after O’Neal retired, the relationship between the two improved and it looked like any rivalry was gone.
Bringing out the sculpture from the basement was not easy. Li Du rented a crane for that purpose.
Assembled, the sculpture was a basketball hoop stand sculpted atop the marble floor. Kobe was positioned sideways, and O’Neal held his hand up high and looked to be just about to jump. It was as though his next move was supposed to be a pass and then a catch to dunk.
The sculpture was tall and big. It had been made to the scale of Kobe and O’Neal. One of them was 1.98 meters tall and the other was 2.16 meters. It was a true masterpiece.