Harry Winston, Inc.'s laboratory was very helpful in appraising gems and jewels. However, to appraise famous paintings or antiques, they would not be of useonly professional agencies could do the job.
In this respect, Roger could assist. He contacted two appraisal agencies: one was the Los Angeles art collection center and the other was the oil painting appraisal department of Christie's auction house.
"Both of them are credible. One is a national collection center while the other is a private auction house. Their appraisals would definitely be convincing. It should be fine to ask them both to conduct the appraisal, right?" Roger asked.
Li Du said, "Sure, no problem. I'm sure they are genuine."
Americans were known for amassing collections of items, and the United States was the best country in the world to be in for indulging in such a hobby. Art collections were of the highest importance, as Americans had a higher sense of artistic appreciation. In fact, many universities offered art appreciation courses.
Under such circumstances, the intellectuals in the United State had a certain level of appreciation for the various world-famous works of art.
Upon seeing the two paintings, Bauer examined them carefully. After Li Du and Roger had finished speaking, he raised his head in astonishment and asked, "'View of the Sea at Scheveningen' and 'Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen'?"
Li Du said, "Yes, these are the two paintings."
Bauer hesitated before speaking. "As far as I know, these two paintings were thought to have disappeared for many years. They are said to be stolen?"
Li Du spread his hands wide open. "The world has lost so much valuable artwork, the owners would claim they have been stolen. This has nothing to do with me. It just happened that I've recently acquired these two paintings."
Listening, Bauer quickly explained, "Sorry, Mr. Li, that was not what I meant."
Li Du laughed. "I understand. In any case, I got them through legal means and now I would like to sell them, and get some Harry Winston, Inc. shares in exchange."
Roger perked up upon hearing this. The company's plight had already been reported in the media. Many small shareholders were anxious to get rid of their shares.
However, those with money were not stupid. Who would want to buy the shares at this point? Luxury brands would usually not collapse completely because over time, the brand name would have garnered significant value.
It would not close down, but could be acquired. However, the party who would be buying it would offer a reasonable price but instead buy the shares at the lowest possible price, akin to slaughtering someone.
Under such circumstances, while the brand was still in business and not yet sold, it would be better to cash out the shares quickly.
While Harry Winston, Inc. was not listed, it had many small shareholders from all over the United States and even the world. Las Vegas was an important region, and Roger was responsible for maintaining contact with the shareholders from Arizona and Nevada.
Like Norman and Tedrick, these shareholders had too few shares to be able to contact the board and the president. They could only bug the highest-ranking person in their region, which was the director.
They had been a source of annoyance for Roger. Since they were shareholders after all, he could not resort to the violent measures used for troublemaking customers. Instead, he had to remain cordial.
Somehow, the richer one was, the more hot-tempered they would be. Roger had borne the brunt of this during this period of time.
Now that Li Du had stepped out to acquire the shares of the minority shareholders, it seemed like his pressing problem was going to be solved.
To some extent, he was even more hopeful than Li Du for these two paintings to fetch high prices so that Li Du could buy as many shares as possible.
After Li Du showed Bauer the two paintings, he carried them back downstairs. This time, he was merely there to ask Roger for help.
Sophie was downstairs viewing a pair of diamond earrings. The studs were not big. Small diamonds had been used to form a butterfly wing. The two earrings formed two wingsit looked stunning.
Li Du noted she took a liking to it and said, "Please wrap those up."
The leading female salesperson who had been by Sophie's side looked at her with an envious glance, smiled and said, "Yes, Mr. Li. Please wait a moment."
To her, Sophie was much more than just a pretty face. Comparing their appearance, she was confident of being on par with Sophie. What she could not attain was Sophie's disposition. The combination of composure, gentleness and confidence Sophie had was unique.
The other part was finding a man to match. Li Du was Chinese but also a sophisticated young man who was gracious, wealthy and had potential. To them, he was a good catch.
She had been working in Harry Winston for five years now but had never met such a prince charming. She had been losing hope.
After some pondering, Sophie pointed to a dazzling brooch displayed in the showcase and said, "Please wrap this brooch up for me. I'll pay for it separately."
Needless to say, this was for Li Du.
Comparing the value of the gifts, the brooch was slightly more valuable. The diamonds on the earrings were very small. The pair of studs only cost 1,200 dollars. The brooch cost almost 3,000 dollars.
Li Du wanted to foot the bill for both items but Sophie insisted on paying for the brooch. Then, she pinned it on his chest for a look. She thought it looked pretty good and suppressed a guffaw by covering her mouth.
Sophie's presence brought him good luck. Playboy called him that evening and said, "Those eight thugs have been caught. Would you like to meet them?"
Li Du asked, "Were they caught by Knight?"
Playboy said, "Yes, they were down on their luck. They were hiding in an abandoned underground casino. If not for Knight, they could have possibly avoided being caught by the police."
Li Du asked again, "Did Knight ask them why they kidnapped me?"
Playboy twisted his lips into a wry smile. "Yes, I asked personally. You were pretty unlucky, too, Li. They wanted to abduct a few people from the cash auction to make a quick buck. You were the one who had brought the most cash."
When they learned that the King Kong Storage Company was preparing to organize a cash auction, they planned to kidnap several wealthy people.
It was Li Du's first time participating. There were some storage units he wanted to get, so he had brought along more money than usual.
The man with the cleft-lip, Daimler, had his eye on him from the very beginning. Li Du was well-known in Flagstaff and Arizona, so the first time he had seen Li Du at the storage unit, Daimler recognized him.
After that, the auction began. Daimler noticed Li Du had brought the most cash and locked him down as their target.
Li Du frowned. "It's pretty unbelievable, Akkalou. The eight of them were skilled. Although I managed to escape in the end, it was a really close shave. They were all experts."
"Indeed, they were experts," Playboy agreed with him. "After looking up their identities, I think it was incredible you were able to escape from them."
He told Li Du that the eight of them had been trained at the famous private security company, Triple Canopy. One of the key members of the security company was a retired military officer who was formerly from the United States Delta Force.
The eight of them used to be members of a security team, but they had committed a grave mistake during a mission and were expelled. This time around, they had gotten together again just to kidnap Li Du.