As you all know, American millionaires have a tendency to become avid collectors, often of the strangest things. This was certainly true of one particular millionaire whom I shall call John.
John collected impressionist paintings, but not the ones you might think. He specialized in Eastern Bloc artists, being especially fond of those from Bohemia. Over the years, he accumulated hundreds of such paintings. Individually they weren't that valuable, but as a
collection they were of considerable interest to art historians.
Realizing this, he many years ago altered his will so that all of his collection was to be presented to the museum in the town where he had grown up. Also included was a quite handsome sum to cover security and display costs.
Time passed, as it always does, and last year, John died peacefully in his sleep.
What John hadn't foreseen was the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the opening up of the former communist countries to Western eyes. The value of John's collection had shot through the roof, in comparison with what he had considered its monetary value, and his surviving
relatives began to cast envious eyes on the artwork.
The situation was made considerably worse when, during cataloguing, it was discovered that the collection included a long lost work by a famous French impressionist, with a value commensurate with its creators fame.
All the relatives screamed loudly, and demanded that the will be contested in court. Some of them wanted all the paintings for themselves, but most were willing to allow the museum to have all except the French example and maybe even that one, as long as the museum was willing to pay a "reasonable price" for them.
As with all such cases, the more money involved, the faster the case is heard, and the longer it takes to hear it. Thus, it was only last week that the judge handed down his decision.
He found that the provision in the will was clearly stated, and perfectly reasonable. He therefore awarded the paintings to the museum, doing so in the clearest terms he could find. Indeed, his summation is a masterpiece of clarity. "From the terms of this will it is plain to see you get your Monet for nothing, and your Czechs for free."