Culture Shock

Steven Robert Allen
3 min read
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A couple pieces of wood, a roll of canvas and some oil paint: $104 million. On Wednesday, May 5, at Sotheby's auction house in New York, an anonymous bidder purchased Pablo Picasso's “Garcon a la Pipe” (“Boy with a Pipe”) for this whopping sum, making it the new record holder as the world's most expensive painting.

For people who care about such things, here's the current ranking:

1) Pablo Picasso, “Garcon a la Pipe,” $104 million (2004)

2) Vincent van Gogh, “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” $82.5 million (1990)

3) Pierre Auguste Renoir, “Au Moulin de la Galette,” $78 million (1990)

4) Peter Paul Rubens, “Massacre of the Innocents,” $76.7 million (2002)

5) Vincent van Gogh, “Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe,” $65 million (1998)

6) Paul Cezanne, “Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier,” $55 million (1999)

7) Pablo Picasso, “Les Noces de Pierrette,” $51.67 million (1989)

8) Pablo Picasso, “Femme aux Bras Croisés,” $50 million (2000)

9) Vincent Van Gogh, “Irises,” $49 million (1989)

10) Pablo Picasso, “La Reve,” $48 million (1997)

Painted when Picasso was just 24, “Garcon a la Pipe” is one of the finest examples from his Rose Period. Former U.S. ambassador to Britain John Whitney purchased the painting in 1950 for a mere $30,000, illustrating the degree to which famous pieces by the rock stars of western art have inflated over the last half century.

Let's just hope ordinary people will have a chance to see it. A Japanese firm purchased number two on the list—Van Gogh's “Portrait of Dr. Gachet”— in 1990. The piece, sadly, has been locked in a vault in an undisclosed location in Tokyo ever since.

Culture Shock

Due to a mysterious but welcomed scheduling mishap, our Ridiculously Short Fiction Contest will be pushed back a week. This truly is a blessing in disguise. It means all you aspiring fictioneers will have another week—that's seven days (168 hours/10,080 minutes)—to hone your mini-tales into the sparkling, shiny, extra-short masterpieces we know you've got festering somewhere inside you. Here are the old rules along with the new deadline date:

1) Your story must be no longer than 100 words, including title, if any.

2) Three entries maximum per person.

3) Include your name, address and phone number.

4) Send your stories to: Alibi Ridiculously Short Fiction Contest, 2118 Central SE, PMB #151, Albuquerque, NM 87106-4004, or e-mail them to (no attachments!).

5) Deadline is Friday, June 11, at 5 p.m.

As always, the lucky winners will receive lots of fabulous prizes. Along with the winners, we also plan to print dozens of honorable mentions in our June 24 issue. Good luck! Get cracking!

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