by forrest fenn
MANY OF THE OBJECTS IN MY COLLECTION ARE SIGNIFICANT IN A VERY SMALL DEPICTION OF WORLD HISTORY. MOST ARE MORE INTERESTING THAN THEY ARE IMPORTANT. NEVERTHELESS, IT IS NECESSARY FOR ME TO REMEMBER THAT EACH PIECE REPRESENTS WHO WE ONCE WERE IN A TIME THAT USED TO BE, AND THAT I WILL NEVER BE ANYTHING MORE THAN ITS TEMPORARY CUSTODIAN.
When Don Johnson asked a question on this blog about a coat bracelet that adorns the treasure chest, I decided to write something here that might help quench his curiosity. It also gives me an opportunity to revisit my memory of Eric Sloane.
I first met Eric in 1975 at the Dutch Treat Club in New York as the guest of Armand Hammer and his brother Victor. I told that story with some relish in my book Seventeen Dollars a Square Inch, which is full of tales about the storied Eric Sloane.
Until he died in 1985, Eric and I enjoyed a relationship that surely is held in reserve for a special few. We lunched most days when he was in town, and I was in awe of him. He was twenty-five years my senior and just two years younger than my father.
Eric and I enjoyed an unprecedented custom of wanting to please each other. When I was in his home or studio and saw something I liked – he gave it to me. And when he was in my gallery our staff was instructed to gift him anything that tweaked his interest as he strolled our space. That’s how I got my cigar store Indian. Fortunately, our taste in each other’s personal possessions normally didn’t exceed about $20,000.
Eric consigned his work to us and our storage rooms were filled with his paintings, although during the last year of his life we sold one every other working day, on average.
But he was a dichotomy. Occasionally he’d walk into my office carrying a painting wet off of his easel. He’d say, “Forrest, I don’t much like this painting, it’s not very good, I’m thinking of throwing it out in the alley. What do you think?” That meant he wanted some walking-around money. So I’d say, “Oh no Eric, that’s the greatest painting I ever saw, let me buy it from you,” As he was busy acquiescing I’d pull a roll of bills from my drawer and start stacking them up. Eric would yell, “Forrest stop, that’s enough, please stop.” So of course I didn’t stop until the pile reached about 65% of what the painting was worth retail. With that deal done we’d go to the Pink and Eric would treat me to lunch with my money. We purchased sixty-eight painting from him in that manner over a nine year period, and in 1984 we gave Eric $346,980.
After a few months Eric’s pockets were full of $100 bills. He heard that because drug dealers had large hoards of American dollars our treasury was planning to recall all of its cash extant, and replace it with a different currency. That worried Eric and he decided to spend his cash money.
Coincidentally, we had a very nice canary diamond in our jewelry display. It was 43 carets. I remember the size because it was two carets smaller than the Hope Diamond that’s on display in the Smithsonian. Eric acquired our lovely canary for a Campbell Soup box full of money, and his wife’s very handsome gold dragon coat bracelet that was littered with rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. That was her addition to the trade and I was pleased with our mutual agreement. And that, Don Johnson, is how I acquired the famous bracelet.
And I might add that Eric’s wife also was pleased with the transaction because her husband was a very generous man.
added by dal-
Forrest did not send along a photo of the dragon bracelet. If you want to see it I guess you will have to find the chest because it is in a zip lock inside. He told me he put it in there “because the bracelet has a stainless steel hinge that might be effected by moisture if it is not found for a few centuries”.