As expected, the art gallery was packed with guests. We seemed to be a little out of place, being the only ones who showed up with the whole family.
Nathaniel was busy entertaining his other guests, so we decided to look around the gallery ourselves.
The gallery adopted the Epea architectural style from the last century. Its lobby with vaulted ceiling introduced a historic charm to the place. Under such an atmosphere, the oil paintings on the wall seemed to be veiled by a sense of mystery.
Standing in the middle of the lobby, John fixed his eyes on the Mona Lisa’s smile and gauged its authenticity. “Do you guys think it’s authentic or fake?”
“I suppose it’s authentic,” I blurted out. “Those who show up today are all prominent figures. Besides, Nathaniel is rich. I don’t think he would display a reproduction in his gallery.”
“What do you think?” John asked Ashton.
“Well, it can be authentic, and it can be fake. Actually, the oil paintings themselves have no value. They only gain popularity and rise in value because they are much sought after. To some extent, it is an excellent marketing tactic by attaching the artists’ feelings and life experiences to the artworks.”
“I’m not asking you about business. I’m asking you if the painting is authentic.” John grew serious as he put his hands in his pockets.
Ashton curled his lips into a cold smile. He stooped down to pick Audrey up and then replied nonchalantly, “Well, that depends on how many people believe in its authenticity.”
With that, he left with Audrey to look at the other paintings, leaving John and me behind.
Both of us shared a look and unanimously shrugged in resignation.
Ashton’s words indeed made sense. The art industry was not as simple as it seemed. It was a high-risk investment, just like stone gambling and stock investment, which could make a person go bankrupt and became debt-ridden.
Since Nathaniel could set up such a grand art gallery, he must be one of the few who got to lay down the rules in the industry. Hence, it was not surprising that he could make huge profits.
After a few minutes, the excitation when we first stepped foot in the gallery faded away. After all, we were not art enthusiasts.
In the end, Ashton brought the energetic Audrey outside the villa as the latter might prefer being out in the nature.
Initially, John was keeping me company. Later, he went outside to answer a call from M Country to avoid disturbing the others in the gallery.
Soon, I grew tired after standing for a while. As I decided to find a place to rest, Nathaniel’s voice rang out, “Scarlett, do you think this painting is portraying the ebb or flood?”
I straightened up upon hearing his voice. Soon, I realized he was talking about the picture in front of me.
It was a beautiful piece of art featuring the sun and breaking waves, a distant view from the seaside. At first glance, one couldn’t really tell if they were ebb or flood tide since it resembled both.
After thinking for a while, I answered, “I think it’s flood tide. This is a painting of the sea when the sea level rises during sunset. Although the sun still looks reddish, it is sinking below the horizon.”
Nathaniel cast his eyes downward while curling his lips into a faint smile. “Well, I think it’s ebb tide. During sunrise, the seagulls fly, and the tides recede and move away from the oceanfront. One can imagine how magnificent such a scene is. When we take a step back and make a concession in life, we can get a wider field of view of the peaceful scenery.”
It was not surprising that Nathaniel could make an innuendo with a random oil painting. After all, he was a guileful one who had been hatching a plot for all these years.
So, does he mean he wanted to make peace with us?
Just as Nathaniel finished saying that, John was back. The two nodded at each other.
With a troubled expression, John brought me a piece of news, “Uncle Louis is back in the country with Zachary and Cameron.”
Feeling confused, I asked, “Why did they suddenly come back? They’re not young anymore. How could they stand the tedious journey? Why didn’t you dissuade them from flying?”