Just as Li Du had known, the two oil paintings were authentic. The appraisal proved this fact and the experts' views were unanimousthese were the two lost Van Gogh originals!
Now that the appraisal was concluded, they no longer paid any attention to each other. Instead, they fought to congratulate Li Du:
"Mr. Li, I have to admit that you've made us extremely envious of you."
"We're not the only envious ones. Many major collectors and collection centers are envying you as well. Two genuine Van Gogh works!"
"Mr. Li, have you any interest in passing these paintings to Christie's? If they were included in next year's spring auction, I bet they would be the key highlights!"
Christie's spring and autumn auctions were the most extravagant in the world. The top bids of the year as well as record-breaking prices would appear there.
However, the spring auction was almost four months away. Li Du couldn't wait that long; he needed to convert these paintings to money so that he could buy over the Harry Winston shares.
He accepted the experts' congratulations with a smile and then invited them to lunch.
Before this, he had asked Hans to help make a booking at Flagstaff's famous Blonde d'Aquitaine Restaurant.
At lunch, the conversation still revolved around the two paintings. When the few experts found out that he was eager to sell the paintings off, they fought over helping him find buyers.
For such transactions of collectibles, the middleman would earn commissions. For paintings worth millions of dollars, they could earn hundreds of thousands if not millions as commission once the transactions went through.
With the ball in his court, Li Du was now the center of attentionthe group of them were literally exalting him to the skies.
According to the two experts' estimates, the more expensive painting between the two was the "Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather." Although this painting had been produced much earlier, it was larger in size and so easier for viewing.
The grains of sand on the paint cloth especially gave the painting character.
The grains of sand not only didn't damage the paint cloth but had become witnesses of time and history. They had accompanied Van Gogh as he had completed the painting. Along with the sea breeze, they were in contact with Van Gogh. For collectors and artists, this was all too precious.
According to the experts' estimates, "Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather" was worth 30 million dollars while "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" was worth much less at 15 to 20 million dollars.
Thanks to the huge popularity of Van Gogh's paintings in the art scene, these two estimates were considered more than reasonable.
In 1987, "Irises" was sold for 53.9 million dollars while "Sunflower" was sold for 39.5 million dollars.
In 1990, the "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" had hit a new high. It was sold to a Japanese collector for 82.5 million dollars. In the later part of 1998, "Self-Portrait without Beard" also sold for 71.5 million dollars.
Now, the painting "Vase with Daisies and Poppies" was on the market again. Christie's had drummed up pre-publicity for the painting. It would, however, not be put on auction until sometime in the future.
Professor Kevin and team had worked for Christie's as technical experts, so they had more information on this than any outsiders. During lunch, they shared that the auction house was very confident about auctioning the painting off.
Li Du asked, "What is Christie's estimate for this painting?"
"The target is 60 million dollars," Professor Kevin answered him.
Li Du grinned. Looks like for the art collecting market, money will never be an issue!
Other people would also grin at the price of his two paintings. The two paintings would be worth at least 40 million dollars in total. For 99 percent of the world's population, they wouldn't be able to earn such an amount in their entire lifetimes!
Upon knowing that he was willing to let these two paintings go, these experts were not in the mood to dine. Instead, they were busy actively promoting the two paintings to those in their networks.
They knew many collectors, collecting agencies and also many local tycoons. In addition, they also had many personal contacts in the industry; all these people would be great resources.
As long they could get a client, no matter how many people it took, they would all be able to make money. And since this was no paltry sum, why not?
Maybe in the art collecting scene, money would never be an issuetens of millions could exchange hands just like that. But everyone was also well-aware that money didn't come out from a printing press just like that. It wouldn't be that easy to sell the two paintings; at the very least, it was not something that could be resolved in just a couple of days.
Li Du put away the two paintings before paying the appraisal fee to the two teams of experts. He then flew off to Las Vegas to settle the fire opals.
He had gotten a good harvest over the past 20 days; in the safe were very valuable, clear, gleaming gemstones.
These gemstones could also fetch him a tidy sum; not as much as the paintings but the sum could at least start him on the path of acquiring the shares.
He was in a hurry to acquire the shares because Harry Winston was in a precarious position. Many shareholders were discarding their shares at low prices; it was a good opportunity for him to acquire the shares.
This was like buying housing. Now that the housing prices were decreasing, many people would prefer to buy in only when the market was on the rise and not when the prices had dropped. Li Du had chosen a different approach; he was buying when the prices had dropped because he had believed that he could stop the prices from dropping further.
Li Du had identified his current strategy. He would first dig for opals, and then when he was done, he would then look for other gems. When there were enough precious gemstones, Harry Winston Inc. would surely be resurrected.
Sophie was upset to learn that he was going to leave again. She grabbed his hand and said, "We're going to be lovers living apart again. Darling, what shall we do?"
Li Du comforted her by saying, "Let me make my fortune first. When we have financial freedom, you'll come with me wherever I go, okay?"
Sophie struggled with his reasoning. "Wait to have financial freedom? In fact, my pay's not that low and I've got a house. Shall I sell it? Then we can have financial freedom."
Li Du gave a hollow laugh, and said, "My idea of financial freedom is to have hundreds of millions of dollars in disposable income."
With the bountiful harvest of gems and the famous paintings in hand, his heart had grown to know no bounds.
Sophie thought he was joking, and smiled. "Alright, go earn your hundreds of millions of dollars. But you must be careful when you go to Las Vegas this time!"
Li Du snapped his fingers and Brother Wolf came out from a corner and looked at him with inquiring eyes. He said, "Show lady boss what you're made of!"
Brother Wolf stood next to Godzilla. Without warning, he gave a kick to Godzilla's legusing his bent knee to kick the inside of Godzilla's thigh.
Godzilla gulped down a breath of cool air, and inevitably lost his center of gravity as he bent both his knees. Brother Wolf reached out to grab hold of his shoulders forcefully and then threw Godzilla over his shoulders onto the ground!
Li Du was amazed. "God, you're too violent!"
Being an honest chap, Godzilla, who was fine with such violent treatment, spoke out in defense of Brother Wolf. "Didn't hurt."
"What I demonstrated was a Russian style of wrestling," Brother Wolf explained. "The skill involves throwing someone bigger and heavier onto the ground without injuring him. The maximum load has been reduced."
Then he stretched out his hand and said, "Lady boss, would you like to try it out?"
Shaking her head like how willow branches shook when there was wind, Sophie said, "Er, I better not. You really are a very powerful bodyguard. I needn't worry then."