So, I’ve told you that Ed Weston called to “run an idea” past me which he believed would help him sell a couple of hundred fake prints of “Discovery of America By Christopher Columbus”. I knew the edition very well. It was part of my first Dali case in which I served as expert witness for the prosecution – State of New Mexico vs. Ron Caven, Kurt Caven and Shelby Fine Art.
A transparency of the original 1958-1959 painting titled “The Dream of Columbus” was given to Jean-Paul Delcourt (aka David Mondai; aka David Mondai-Delcourt) by A. Reynolds Morse of The Salvador Dali Museum/Foundation. He quickly revoked his permission for its reproduction, but Delcourt proceeded anyway. He sold a publication contract to Gilbert Hamon who prodused 1,000 prints on “pre-signed paper” which I proved over and over again in court exhibited fake signatures. I believe the paper was signed by John Peter Moore (former Dali secretary) or his wife Katherin (as Moore later suggested to me).
Now, back to Ed’s phone call…….
He said, “We all know those things are bogus, Bernard, but how about this…. You know we’re coming up on some centennial of Columbus discovering this place (Los Aneles?) and I have friends who know a lot of Mafia guys. You know theyr’e all Italians and I bet they’d buy this shit. Here’s what I plan to do.
When the three reproduction ships sail from New York to Florida (after crossing the Atlantic from Spain), I’m going to do this event next to the moored ships in Miami. I’m going to have Diego Colon–the twentieth generation grandson of Christopher Columbus–arrive by helicopter. He’ll stamp the family crest on every print and then sign them. If that isn’t brilliant enough, I’ll also give away a Columbus half-dollar with each print sold. I’ll send you a set–print and coin. The Mafia guys should eat it up.”
How could I respond except to say, “Ed, I see you’re thinking big, as always. Go for it and good luck. Let me know how it goes.”
He did. He called a couple of month later and said, “Aw, the whole thing’s in the toilet. Those damn ships never made it. Spain is going crazy over the Olympics and forgot about Columbus. I still got Diego Colon to stamp and sign the prints and I still give away a Columbian half-dollar with each one. Thing is, I still have a lot of them. Don’t worry. I’ll send you yours.”
I don’t think Ed did sell very many because I have never been asked to appraise one and with the volume of Dali prints that I appraise, that’s surprising. You have to agree, however, my job’s more entertaining that almost any other. After all, I am immersed in Salvador Dali every day.
Here is a picture of Diego Colon, twentieth generation grandson of Christopher Columbus, signing Ed’s fake prints.