By Ellie Levin
I had been at Christie’s Auction Galleries several hours trying to keep up my spirits as I moved from Edouard Manet’s painting “Le Printemps,” estimated at 25 million to 35 million, to some paintings with lower estimates of Van Gogh, Monet, Mary Cassatt, Utrillo, Vlaminck, and other impressionist and post-impressionist painters. There was a bronze sculpture of a horse by Degas that I loved, lots of Picasso’s cubist work and late pottery, amazing just because of the beauty of his line. I had looked diligently at all the Joseph Cornell shadow boxes to honor my fond memory of going with my son Roger from the time he was seven or eight to see Cornell whose boxes filled with found objects intrigued the then young boy, and I was at Christie’s in memory of my late husband Jud for whom the Fall and Spring auctions were a must. “You will never get a chance to see these pictures again. They will be bought up by private collectors and hung in living rooms or private libraries,” he had proclaimed.
I was done viewing, having gone to every exhibit, but almost in tears, weak and hungry, lonely and sad. I had no one with whom to share my joy and rapture at this sacred art fest. I was on my way out when I noticed a bar maid dispensing cappuccino and more in a corner of the main floor. I soon ascertained that your choice of several different coffee drinks, several kinds of tea, and cookies were all compliments of Christie’s. I received a foaming glass of cappuccino and helped myself to three coconut macaroons; I looked for a seat. There was just one in front of me, at a high table with one elderly gentleman seated facing me. I asked if I could join him. He waved consent and said that he was delighted and hoped I had enjoyed the exhibition as much as he had. He seemed so pleased that I was there that I volunteered my first name and babbled on about my favorite pictures. His name was Neil and we had as far as art went the same favorites, we soon found out. We talked jovially for possibly a half hour and then Neil said, “I should be moving along, but I look forward to seeing you at the spring exhibition.”
Of course, it was nonsense. He didn’t know my full name or my email address and there were always several days of viewing. Still, I was happy to have had a friend when I so needed to touch another person in some way that had meaning for both of us.