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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Monday, 7 September 2015

The value of art

Saturday, September 7th., 1929.

At 75 Cadogan Square, London.

Eight years ago I bought a portrait of a woman by Modigliani - certainly one of the greatest painters of this century - for £50. So that when I received an invitation to a private view of Modiglianis in a West End gallery, I accepted it at once. There were no £50 items in this show. I halted before the picture which pleased me most and asked the price of it. The manager replied: "A Paris dealer offered me £6000 but I refused it." This news delighted me. He did not say what his own price actually was and I did not inquire further. I never paid more than £100 for a picture in my life and I never will.

At this private view a professional photographer came up to me and asked permission to photograph me in the act of gazing at the masterpieces of Modigliani! I forbade. He then went up to a well-known collecting peer and made the same request, and was again rebuffed. These people must necessarily have very thick skins. I suppose that in truth it is not much different than the stoic attitude we authors must maintain in the face of our critics. Recently at Copenhagen I was interviewed three times, photographed four times and caricatured once, in a day. And simply couldn't help it. Such is the mixed blessing of being some sort of celebrity.

I have recently returned from a glance at Leningrad and Moscow, and my articles on the Soviet regime have commenced in the Daily Express. I started out to be sympathetic, but am now hostile, to the Soviet regime.

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