"Excuse me, sir!"
said a 10 year-old boy while approaching the counter behind which
stood an aged man.
The boy held out his hands
holding a large frame that's covered with a silky cloth. The man
unfolded the soft material and shockingly became astounded;
before him-before his very eyes-was a portrait of Mona
Garrick Dumont, the man's real
name, was a French art historian for over 20 years, and has
taught art history at Cambridge University. Dumont had spent most
of his academic career studying the Renaissance from
14th to 16th centuries. He was mostly
interested in the work of the star of the late Renaissance,
Leonardo Da Vinci. The Mona Lisa portrait drew his attention upon
graduation from college, so he decided to learn more about the
Renaissance man and unravel the secrets behind his
Dumont became successful at
answering many questions about the portrait, such as the time it
took Leonardo to finish it and what materials-if not all-he used
to complete it. Unfortunately, Dumont was not able to answer-like
many scholars and art historians couldn't-the most important
question: how did the Renaissance man make such fine
Now in his 60s Dumont retired
from teaching and decided to follow a casual life, and that is
opening his own shop where he could buy antiques from customers.
He had this fondness for antiques that he wished to compile as
much as possible to make up his own collection.
After retirement Dumont built his
own shop called "Dumont's Antiquities," which is situated in
uptown part of Seattle, where his shop was considered to be the
least attractive in comparison with other commercial stores. So
far he bought twenty-six antiques from costumers, few of which
were sculptures and old pictures showing soldiers in 1916 during
World War 1, others being coins that were almost 300 years
old-all of them he bought from his Retirement Savings Account.
But today was completely different; a piece of art he had yearned
to have in his possession was right in front of him. This could
be the greatest moment of his life, he thought.
"I want to sell Lola Corola for
$100,000, mister," the boy finally said.
Dumont thought it was a joke.
Even though Mona Lisa is worth more than the price, he couldn't
afford even for $1,000. The man thought it was a fake
"You mean Mona Lisa, not Lola
Corola," the man corrected him.
"I call it Lola Corola," the boy
"Do you know the man who painted
this piece?" Dumont said. The boy shook his head.
Dumont thought of two possible
explanations: the Lola Corola-according to the boy-must be a fake
portrait, or it's an actual Mona Lisa that must've been stolen
from the museum in Italy. The man knew the latter seemed
ludicrous since it's impossible for the boy to steal a popular
painting. Maybe an adult stole it and gave it to him?
Dumont looked at the portrait for
a while as he was trying to recollect his memories of the time he
got to actually see the painting in detail, though did not touch
or even see it closely. He realized the frame was different; it
was a plastic frame he'd seen at some store only for photos or
portraits of people. The painting seemed slightly smaller than
the one he'd seen, but still he denied it was the actual
painting. He looked at the enigmatic smile of the woman sitting;
the authenticity of her smile brought warmth to his heart. Dumont
wanted the painting so dearly that he once had a dream of having
a large Mona Lisa painting hanged on the wall in his
The man became desperate to
examine the piece that the boy wanted to sell to confirm whether
it's the actual one or just another masterpiece made by someone
"Young man, I need a moment to
analyze it so that I will decide whether to buy it or not," he
said while looking down at the boy, who wore his grade school
The boy nodded and said
"Meanwhile you're free to look
around my shop. There are cool stuff in here."
"I think I'll wait here," the boy
The man gave a slight nod, then
carefully grabbed the painting and brought it to a table where he
would normally take time examining the antiques before thinking
about buying them. He then placed the painting on a glass under
which light projected outward, with an additional overhead lamp
that emitted ultraviolet light. Dumont pulled out a magnifying
glass from his shirt pocket and brought it closer to the
painting, examining the color and texture of it. The Mona Lisa
contains so many details that it took scholars a while to
identify the components, but Dumont knew how to tell whether
something is real after having being trained for years.
The man set his magnifying glass
aside, removed his eyeglasses, and sighed. The man muttered to
himself, "This can't be real!" He knew the painting was Mona
Lisa, or perhaps a perfect replica of the original by Da Vinci.
He remained seated, trying to wrestle over the thought that it
The man went over to where the
telephone was and dialed the number he'd memorized after his
first visit to the museum's Salle des États. After dialing came a
voice on the other end of the line. However, an anonymous person
spoke in Italian.
"Uh, I'm sorry. I'm American,"
Dumont said, following silence. Finally, another voice came, this
time the person spoke in English.
"Hello, how may I help
"Yes, uh, my name is Garrick
Dumont. I have a question I would like to ask." Dumont didn't
understand why he made the call even though deep down he knew it
wasn't stolen. "Has there been any news about the Mona Lisa being
"No sir, the Mona Lisa is still
on display. What made you think that?" the man asked.
"Never mind," he said and hung
Dumont remained seated while
thinking about the boy. Could he be the next Da Vinci, his
mind never ceased to think so. He felt somehow another reason to
believe a new age of Renaissance has begun. It would be
astonishing if the boy did paint his Lola Corola. The only
problem is, he couldn't afford it-he would even triple the price
if he were rich enough.
The man returned with the
painting and found the boy still standing on the same
"Young man, did you draw this?"
he asked. The boy nodded but said not a word.
"How long it took you to do
"Three weeks," the boy finally
"You did it by imagination or
simply copying the work?"
"I looked at the picture on the
Internet once and painted it."
Very impressive, thought the man.
He took a deep breath, hoping to get his answer to the most
difficult question. He finally looked at the kid and
"How did you do it?"
"Mommy said never tell a secret
to anybody," the boy declared.
"Seems like your mom's right," he
said. Though the boy responded with a shrug.
"Do you want Lola Corola for
$100,000?" the boy began.
"Don't you think that's too
high?" Dumont said, even though he knew the painting's
The boy shrugged again.
"How about $500?" the man decided
to outsmart the kid. "You can do a lot with $500, like go to
Disney World, visit Mount Everest, walk on the moon, everything
you want." Dumont knew lying to the kid was wrong, but he wanted
the painting really bad-like his greedy inner self decided to
take over the righteous side of him.
The kid abruptly took the
painting, covered it with the silky cloth in an elegant way, and
looked directly into the man's eyes as if disappointed.
"No thank you, sir," the boy said
and readily left the shop.
Dumont thought hard about giving
him a reasonable prize and decided to go after the boy.
Unfortunately, once outside the shop, the boy was out of sight.
The man looked around but no sign of the boy.
Dumont returned inside, went
behind the counter and pulled out a cigar from a drawer that he'd
kept for four years-even though he did quit smoking, after
missing what could've been the biggest moment of his life,
decided to smoke again. He lit the cigar while seated in a chair,
inhaled the smoke as he contemplated the ceiling, and exhaled. He
closed his eyes and finally decided to say the words he thought
would be his final chance before it's too late-before his time in
this world would end. "Oh, fuck me!"