Once, many years ago, I was hired out for the day by Christian Dior–by their flagship store in Manhattan.
My job was to remove Dior’s portrait, which was painted by Bernard Buffet, from its protective case and transfer it to another shop where it would be cleaned and reframed.
When I arrived at Dior, I was taken aside by the manager, and he lectured me on the importance of the portrait and about the special relationship between Mr. Dior and the artist Buffet. I was given white gloves to handle the painting with.
Like so many jobs I’ve had over the years, I was hired because of my height, my reach, and polite presentability. I was careful. I opened the glass sarcophagus gingerly.
Then, I almost had to laugh, because the painting itself was actually a cheap reproduction, a $20 giclee print–dorm room ready–and not the “priceless” original that had driven this entire charade.
The Buffet itself was something like a decal on canvas, no significant surface, with a visible screen matrix pattern. I maintained my part of the illusion and handled the Dior portrait as if it were the Mona Lisa, and was paid a day rate greater than the value of the so-called painting.
I was professional, and I reveled in the hushed solemnity as I removed the portrait and exited the House of Dior.