Of course it’s true, the rich are different from you and me. They have more money. That aside, if you look closely into any tribe, you’ll find quirkiness. The art world is no exception. Where else but there would an expert who is in jail for art forgery, hold court with dignitaries seeking his expert advice? Where, but in the art world, would a student, who admired his teacher, turn against the man who set him on his path? And where else, but among aficionados, would the crook, being well-bred and mannered be embraced before the brute who gave him up?
Perhaps the first question should be why would a man who was wealthy, well-regarded by his peers and stood second to none as an expert in his field, 18th century furniture, decide to make forgeries? Profit alone couldn’t be the reason. He had a closet stuffed with of expensive suites, entertained elites in his lofty dwelling and drove a Porsche. (“The Chairmen,” by Eric Konigsberg, Vanity Fair, August, 2018, pgs. 71-81 & 100.) Nor did this erudite man, Bill G. B. Pallot, admit wrong-doing once released from prison. All he had to say when interviewers from the French magazines Le Figaro and Paris Match came calling was to observe, “prison was not for intellectuals.” (Ibid, pg. 76.) His hugely successful frauds, he went on to argue, were a tribute to his expertise. (Ibid pg. 81.)
Surprisingly, his victims agree. Pallot and his scurrilous team are back at work, providing appraisals, repairs and reproductions for their former clientele. After all, the defrauded seldom complain, being too embarrassed to do so. (Ibid, 76.)
This Laissez-faire attitude puzzles Charles Hooreman, Pallot’s student — a young, handsome fellow from the working class, whose manner lacks polish. Since his betrayal, he has received little patronage from those whom Pallot defrauded. Instead, the pupil continues to scratch for work to feed his wife and five children.
The injustice of this state of affairs may trouble some. But we should remain focused on the initial question. Why did Pallot turn to the dark side? Perhaps it was for no other reason than the one he gave the judge at his sentencing. He was bored. He needed stimulation. Besides, it never occurred to him anyone would doubt his word. (Ibid 100.) Unfortunately, he hadn’t reckoned on how well he’d taught Charles Hooreman.
Never mind. From Pallot’s perspective, all’s well that ends well. The renowned crook has returned to his fold while his student looks in from the outside.
What, is to be learned from this curious tale? As a former educator, I’ve given the matter much thought and believe I have found an answer. Never pick a quarrel with your teacher.