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And Still DuChamp-een

Mystery teasers are little stories where you need to figure out what happened based on the given clues.


Puzzle ID:#26951
Fun:*** (2.54)
Difficulty:*** (2.65)
Submitted By:norcekrius****




"8:00 A.M. Friday? I'll be there, with bells on." Nora Shekrie said as she hit 'end' on her cell phone, pleased with the call. After more than a month of casual contacts and interactions, Wilby Habenpfun, the handsome bank manager, had asked her personally to attend a function with him. The invitation was based on her one course in art history in a year to which she didn't readily admit, but it was still a day at his side. That was the good news.
The bad news was that the function was the estate sale for his father's "surplus collection", a sale mandated by the IRS before Wilby could inherit the remaining small percentage of his father's apparent wealth. Still, there were several unusual items in the auction, including minor works by Marcel DuChamp, Picasso, and Grant Wood. Wilby stood to keep the family's stock in the bank intact, with enough funds left over for a life of relative comfort.
Wilby spotted her immediately when she entered the grounds at 7:43. "Nora, I'm so glad you could come!" He looked her up and down, as if seeing her in a different light -- such as a moonlit front porch. He took her arm and introduced her to several local dignitaries as his "art expert". Privately, Nora thought that the minor items alone should cover the amount that Wilby said his father owed Uncle Sam.
She was on her fourth mocha when Wilby took her to a chair in the front row and suggested she take a break.
"But I'm having so much fun!"
"I noticed. You just spent nearly five minutes straight talking to Ida Bindair about that ugly little Picasso thing." Wilby replied.
"Well, it's one of the things I know." said Nora, a bit defensively.
"She was being polite. She knows more than you do. Enough that she paid top dollar for it." Nora was silent for the first time in nearly half an hour.
"It's okay. Some people chatter. I just thought that someone might be noticing by now, and thought you'd like a little time off."
Just then, the auctioneer brought up the final piece before their lunch break. He read from his note cards.
"Lot number 114, an oil painting by Marcel DuChamp, titled 'The Bridesmaid'. DuChamp is most noted for his 1912 painting, 'Nude Descending a Staircase #2', which helped define the cubist movement. This smaller piece, roughly thirty by twenty-four inches, is his last known work. It's signed by the artist and dated '66, two years before his death."
"Wilby!" Nora whispered, "Stop the auction!"
"Are you sure you haven't had too much caffeine? This is supposed to be the third biggest price tag of the day!"
Mrs. Bindair spoke up from behind him. "Wilberforce, she may be a chatterbox, but she knows her art. What happens if he sells the piece, dear?"
"It will be the third biggest check he gets, but he'll have to give it all back after he loses the fraud suit!"
"Mr. auctioneer, the estate has decided to retain that piece. Please strike the lot, and we'll negotiate your commission after a fair appraisal." The auctioneer took it in stride; he'd seen stranger things.
"Now, Nora, perhaps you can calm down enough to tell me why I just gave up two years of retirement?" a confused Wilby inquired.

How did she know something was wrong?


Look up the biography of Marcel DuChamp.

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