A Cruise to Die For (An Alix London Mystery)

A Cruise to Die For (An Alix London Mystery) by Aaron Elkins, Charlotte Elkins Read Free Book Online

Book: A Cruise to Die For (An Alix London Mystery) by Aaron Elkins, Charlotte Elkins Read Free Book Online
Authors: Aaron Elkins, Charlotte Elkins
selfish actions had put a stop to those dreams, and although she’d come a long way back since then—years of dedicated apprenticeship with the great art historian and restorer Fabrizio Santullo in Italy had made her an expert in her own right—she was still angry with him over it. Despite that, over this last year she had almost unwillingly come to love him as much as ever. And if those emotions weren’t confusing and contradictory enough, she was sad for him too, and filled with guilt for the resentment that yet remained, coiled in her chest, and sometimes boiled to the surface.
    Complex
was putting it mildly.
    “A job?” he said. “Excellent. Restoration? Consultation?”
    “Lecturing.”
    “Lecturing,” he repeated with interest. “Well, this is a new path for you. Tell me more.”
    She began filling him in (everything but the FBI part), but only got a couple of sentences into it before he interrupted.
    “Wait a moment—this yacht you’ll be on—are you talking about the
Artemis
? Will you be lecturing on Panos Papadakis’s auction cruise?”
    She blinked. “You know about that?”
    “Certainly I know about it. Don’t you think I keep up with the Culture Guru?”
    “The what? The who?”
    He emitted a theatrical sigh. “My dear child, you have no idea how out of touch you are. I’m really going to have to introduce you to the blogosphere before it’s completely hopeless.”
    Turning down off the viaduct as they neared the bar, Alix laughed, not without irritation. Her seventy-year-old father, having spent eight of the last nine years in a jail cell, was sitting there telling her that
she
was out of touch. He was right, of course, when it came to social media, or networks, or whatever they were called, which was exactly what made it so irritating.
    “Panos Papadakis,” he murmured. “My word, you’re going to be moving in very high-powered company.”
    “You know him?”
    “I know
of
him.”
    “I understand he sells fractional shares of paintings.”
    “Yes, I’ve heard that.”
    “I don’t really know what it means, Geoff. Okay, I understand that if a painting sells for a profit, you get your percentage of the profit, but other than that, why would a collector want a ‘share’ of a painting? Is it like having a time-share condo? Does he get to hang it on his wall a certain share of the time, or what?”
    “No, he does not. You’re quite right, Alix. A truly serious collector would not be interested in owning a fractional piece of art.”
    “But people do—”
    “Yes, but those people—” The corners of his lips turned down. “—
Those
people are not serious collectors. Genuine collectors are in increasingly short supply these days.” He turned earnestly in her direction. “These people are
investors
. Speculators. Philistines. They don’t know about art, they don’t understand it, and they couldn’t care less. They don’t
want
the paintings hanging on their walls. They are perfectly happy to have them housed in some climate-controlled vault, for years if need be, or even for decades, as long as, in the end, their values rise enough for a healthy profit.” He was talking himself into one of his rare fits of temper. He folded his arms and stared out at the oncoming headlights through the noisily scraping wipers. She’d hoped to make it through the winter without replacing them, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen. “
Collectors
,” he grumbled.
    “I can understand why you’d be upset, Geoff. I am too. The idea of beautiful works of art sitting for years in the dark; unseen, unappreciated—that’s awful, but still… well, people can do what they want with them. They own them, after all. It’s not illegal.”
    “Oh? Whatever they want? So if they own a Rembrandt, they can burn it?”
    “Well, no, there’s a moral responsibility—”
    “Oh, a
moral
responsibility,” he said sarcastically.
    “Geoff, I only meant that—and I’m talking about the

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