She looked at the appraiser with hope in her eyes. She could tell he loved the look of the statue. She just hoped it was worth enough.
He held it and stroked it with his fingers. But his fixation changed into something else. But what he said next was something that she could never have anticipated. He told her to leave.
Linda Daniels turned on the air conditioner as beads of sweat dripped down her face on her back.
The summer in New Mexico was unrelenting and she just wanted to stay with her family in the cool indoors. But something in her town was happening that she couldn’t miss.
But Linda loved Antiques Road Show. She couldn’t remember when her fascination started, but it was always there.
So when she caught wind that her favorite show was coming to her hometown of Albuquerque she felt like she was dreaming. She had something that she wanted appraising.
She had an heirloom from her mother. It was a hand-carved lion statue from China.
The story goes that her mother found it while visiting the streets of a town close to Beijing. She thought it would make a nice doorstop.
It was a win-win. Linda’s mother got the item and the seller made some money. Neither was aware that it would start a tradition that would go on.
Linda got the statue from her mother and knew that one day she would give it to her daughter. But she wanted to know more about the history of the object.
But when Linda got to the auction house she felt a funny feeling creeping into the back of her mind.
There was an incredibly long line that Linda could see going out the door. Everyone wanted their items appraised. There were hundreds of items to be appraised. And a lot looked better than her old statue.
Eyes On Her Lion
She still decided to stand at the back of the line with the heavy statue in her arms.
Appraisers were walking along the line trying to find special items. He didn’t like the way they stared. Some people must have had items worth a lot. But there was one question on her mind – was hers?
The Perfect Expert
The man that approached her portion of the line stuck out like a sore thumb with his suit and bow tie. It was Lark Mason, a specialist in Chinese antiques.
He noticed her statue and made his way towards her. He asked her to come with him. Her heart raced, was she holding something invaluable?
Loss For Words
Only a short walk later Linda would be in front of a live camera. She felt beyond nervous. What would they have to say about her piece?
Mason looked at the lion and pointed right at its face. He started saying, “I want to firstly say that when I saw this I could barely…” but then he abruptly stopped as tears streamed down his eyes.
Linda stood there motionless, not even breathing.
YouTube/Antiques Road Show
He continued, “This is among the finest examples of Chinese art that we have seen on the Roadshow. The carving is beautiful. The workmanship is stunning.” He then asked about how she had come by it. As she recalled her mother’s story, his eyes went wide in shock.
High Quality Materials
Clearly, the mother who had sold it had no idea of its value. Then again, neither did Linda’s mother.
Mason ran his fingers along the rippling muscles of the lion’s back. It wasn’t any old stone. It was marble, and very high-quality too, basically the best anyone could get their hands on. The dollar value Linda had been holding in her mind instantly skyrocketed.
Mason added, “This dates back to the golden period of Chinese art, which is called the Tang dynasty — between the 6th century and the 9th century.” While he had seen other fine examples, he had never seen one that large.
But then he turned it over to show her the chisel marks on the base. “You need to leave right now,” he said.
It Belongs In A Museum
“If you don’t plan on selling this, you need insurance immediately. This isn’t just a fine piece … it’s museum quality. It could easily fetch between $120,000 to $180,000.”
Linda gripped the edge of the table, trying not to collapse. Their family had been sitting on a small fortune the entire time! But the biggest question still hung in the air.
Keep Or Sell?
Was she going to sell it? It was clear that Mason was salivating over the piece and would jump at the chance to help her. But then she thought back on her mother’s actions.
The marble lion was given to her with the hope it would be passed down through the generations. She tanked Mason again and left the auction – a hint of longing still lingering in the expert’s eyes. Little did she know this was just the beginning of huge, painful drama.
It felt like very bump was an earthquake – one that would shatter the statue beyond repair.
The decision before her was a huge one, and not something to be rush. The first thing she did was eagerly call her husband to share the good news. The next step was to invite her daughter over for dinner. They needed to have a family meeting immediately. But when a knock came at the door, it wasn’t only her daughter that had come.
An Unexpected Guest
Her husband was in tow, his expression as confused and worried as his wife’s.
Linda felt silly, of course it would have been expected for them to come as a pair. But when they sat down to talk about the results of the roadshow, Linda knew there was going to be trouble. The moment she revealed the value, their eyes turned wide.
No One Struggling
“Sell it, of course!” the husband said.
But there in lied the problem – no one at that table was struggling to live. They had good jobs, homes, cars, savings, and even took vacations. It was a lot more than most people had. The hairs on Linda’s neck stood at attention. To say she was annoyed was an understatement. An argument soon emerged.
No His Business
Linda sternly reminded them of their blessed lives and that the statue was something to be handed down from mother to daughter. If it had to be sold, it would be better for someone in a future generation to have that option if things had turned dire. No one there needed the money.
She also reminded her daughter’s husband that this was a matter between Linda and her daughter. That’s when things exploded.
Linda felt her hands bunch into angry fists as the husband called her selfish. He had “big business plans that could really use a cash infusion.” She had “no right” to keep the money from them.
The daughter sat quiet, her eyes already brimming with tears. Linda’s husband thankfully was on her side and told the yelling guest that he could leave. But that was just the start. When the episode aired, Linda’s phone rang off the hook.
Long Time No See
It wasn’t just collectors who were pestering her during all hours of the day, but distant relatives who hadn’t called in years suddenly popped out of the woodwork.
It started with, “We saw you on TV! Congratulations!” The rest of the conversation was small talk about each other lives … that was conveniently pushed into the direction of money.
Everyone wanted a piece and would have some sort of dire sob story ready.
The moment Linda told them they had no cash to give out, the true colors appeared and angry words, not to mention some very vile names, spouted out of her phone. Once in a while, Linda’s daughter would call, meekly suggesting that they should sell it. Clearly, she was being pressured by the husband.
Getting Out Of Hand
Everywhere Linda looked she was seeing red.
The large dollar sign attached to the statue had suddenly turned people in to greedy monsters. The notion of a family tradition had suddenly been thrown in the trash. It broke her heart. There was only one thing left to do.
Everyone Shut Up
Linda sat at her computer and typed out an email to everyone in the family.
“The next person that calls out of the middle of nowhere, wanting to get their hands on a chunk of money, just know … I’ll DONATE the statue to a museum if you don’t stop with this nonsense. You didn’t care enough to call us when there was no money. What you’re doing is obvious and insulting.” The calls suddenly stopped.
Rock And A Hard Place
The tension between Linda and her daughter was at an all time high.
At least she could use the peace and quiet to think about what to do. It took weeks of pondering and a final, painful conclusion. Linda pulled out the business card she had got the day of the roadshow. The first step was getting insurance.
For now, Linda was going to hang on to the statue. It would stay in their family … and it would not be going to her daughter. The shattering of a tradition sat heavy in her heart.
Money really did turn people into monsters. Who knows what the future would bring? Maybe she would find a good reason to sell it. But for now, it would stay with her – a beautiful reminder of her own mother.