The guests were already seated and eagerly waiting for the ceremony to start, most of them were enviously sizing each other up noting where each fell on Forbes list of the affluent. A hush fell on the crowd as the master of ceremony proudly made his way to the center of the stage, the floodlights beeming spectacularly on him.
”Good evening ladies and gentlemen” he greeted, flashing a killer smile. ”I’m honoured to welcome you to this distinguished event, i trust by now you know that this is the biggest, grandest and the most magnificent auction ever to be held in the entire world!” The crowd cheered excitedly followed by a loud applause. Motioning for quietude he continued
”The items for sale are certainly the rarest and most precious items you can ever find in the world, on my right you can see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michel Angelo’s Dying Slave, Rapheal’s La Fornarina and so many other iconic paintings, artworks, sculpures and artifacts”. Pausing for effect he continued, ”however these items do not come cheap and because of that the opening bid have been set at 5 million dollars for each of the items”. A huge uproar swept through the cloud as many reacted to the perceived high price.
”Wow! The items are certainly very expensive, don’t you think?” Apple CEO Tim Cook remarked to his friends seated with him
”No not at all, i think this effectively separates the big players from the small players” replied Ted Turner the founder of CNN.
”I agree with Ted” chimed in Jeff Bezos, ”This auction is now officially for guys like us” he concluded with a wide grin – just yesterday he was declared the richest man in the world.
The three men fell silent as the auction began immediately. The first item was a 17th Century painting by the Italian painter Rapheal.
”This is La Forlarina, a painting by the renowed painter Rapheal” the MC stated, holding up the painting to the full view of everyone. ”the starting price is 5 million dollars, anyone interested?” he concluded with a smile. Almost instantly a hand went up in the air followed by a female voice.
”20 million dollars!” it was Oprah, the richest black woman in the world.
”I’ll take that for 70 million” another voice went up almost at a wishper.
”One hundred and fifty million!” a coarse voice called shouted from the back, it was Richard Branson the notorious billionaire who owned Virgin Enterprises. No one else was willing to bid for the painting and it was sold to Branson for 150 million dollars.
Next up was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After series of bids, it was eventually sold to a Russian oil magnate, the owner of Chelsea football club for 300 million dollars. The auction continued for several hours with several precious items being sold at extremely high prices. Then all of all sudden, something unexpected happened.
An old dusty and rusted guitar was brought out as the next item for sale. A loud murmur could be heard from the crowd as people wondered the reason for bringing out the guitar. The MC too looked surprised and was speechless as he stared at the old instrument utterly puzzled. (The guitar had no history neither was it used by anyone great or famous. It was actually condemned to be burnt but was mistakenly included as one of the items for the auction).
Standing up immediately D H Trump, the real estate icon spoke sharply ”I believe this is a mistake, so please do us the favour and remove this valueless thing from here and let us get on with the auction”. The crowd nodded in agreement.
Motioning to the ushers the MC instructed ”Please kindly take the guitar away, if possible destroy it immediately so such a thing like this never occurs again”. Turning to the crowd ”We are indeed very sorry for for that, let’s move on” he apologized.
As the ushers carried the ancient guitar off the stage to destroy, a deep baritone voice boomed out from the back of the hall
The ushers froze in mid action as the entire crowd cranned their necks to see who it was. ”Don’t throw away the guitar, let me have it” the voiced out again, the owner elegantly making his way down the aisle towards the stage. Loud gasps emanated from the crowd as people recognized who it was; it was G. F Handel, the greatest music composer, pianist and guitarist of all time! People stared wide-eyed in disbelief as he climbed the stage, took the old guitar from the ushers and sat down in the middle of the stage. He then proceeded to clean up the guitar with careful calculated motions; first of all wiping the dust off it and then tuning it’s strings to the right notes. The crowd watching on in amazement unable to hide their shock.
After accurately tuning the guitar’s strings Handel then placed his hands at the appropriate places and then dished out the most beautiful, harmonious and melodious rendition of his Hallelujah masterpiece. At the end of the song Handel dropped the guitar on top of the seat and then left the stage through the side exit amidst thunderous applause from the frenzied crowd who were left breathless by the mesmerizing performance.
As the crowd reluctantly settled down in their seats someone from the front row shouted immeimmediately
”300 million for that guitar!”
The statement caused another brouhaha in the hall as many people bidded feverishly for the guitar. The bidding war last for close to 4 hours when eventually the guitar was sold for 965 million dollars to a Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu who erected a memorial monument in it’s honour. At his death he willed it to the Royal Spanish Museum where it still resides in a lighted golden enclosure to this very day.
By Peter Oz