a glass of bourbon
‘When was it painted?’ Bradley Ashburn of the Washington Post asked the Director.
‘If you ask any ten of those French and Italian art historians, you’ll get twenty different answers, but in the catalogue, to play safe, we’ve said at the beginning of the Sixteenth Century.
‘Gee, that’s really old.’
Both men were silent as they stared at the image.
‘Who was the model?’
‘A lady living in Florence, Lisa del Giaconda. Her maiden name was Gherardini, so take your pick.’
‘I’d assumed it would be bigger?’
‘Yeah, I was surprised, but as they say, beautiful things come in small sizes. We’re lucky to have it.’
‘I wonder what it’s worth?’ the reporter mused, scribbling in his notebook.
‘It’s been assessed for insurance at a hundred million dollars.’
‘Wow, how much is the premium?’
‘This is not for publication, but we’ve not covered it.’ Brad’s chin was still on his chest when the Director added. ‘We’re spending the money on security.’
‘But, what if it’s stolen?’
‘Then either it would be offered back at a price, in which case the Insurers would pay, or it will disappear into a private vault, in which case they wouldn’t. After all where would we get a replacement? Our aim is to keep it safe.’
Brad started to move forward but was restrained.
‘If you pass that beam all hell will break loose. Lights will flash, bells ring, all doors will automatically close and four armed security guards will rush in. When the Gallery is open to the public the guards will be in the room at all times. At night, just outside the doors.’
Shaking his head the reporter said, ‘I guess you’ll be glad when the Exhibition is over?’
‘You’re not wrong there, my friend.’
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was exhibited in the US for the first time in 1963. The opening of the show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC was on 8 January.
Roger, a retired Environmental Health Manager, lives in the West Midlands. He began writing fiction in 2005 and first submitted to Café Lit in 2011. She’s Here is his 106th piece to be published on Café Lit.