The Louvre's financial difficulties arose from a combination of rising maintenance costs, overspending, and lower than normal attendance. Several costly acquisitions in recent years sunk the museum into spiraling debt. When repairs to the facilities became unavoidable and visitor attendance fell, it became clear that major influx of cash was needed to cure the museum's ills. In June, the decision was made to auction off several of its older exhibits. That decision paid off well yesterday.
The four items that the unidentified bidder purchased included the Toltec Mayan "ceremonial coffer," King Richard the Lion Heart's sword from the crusades, Leonardo da Vinci's codex "Atlanticus," and an interactive sculpture entitles "Self Awareness" credited to Kenneth Farnstein. Attendees of the auction said that the buyer did not try to purchase any other items, but immediately made an excessive bid on these four artifacts as soon as bidding opened.
Experts estimated that the unidentified man paid at least seven billion credits more than the true value of the pieces, but non could say why he was so interested in four such disparate artifacts. They eventually conceded that it may have simply been their rich histories that intrigued him.
This unusual jade and gold coffer is thought to have played a role in Mayan religious ceremonies. It was discovered in 2027 during an archaeological dig within a previously undiscovered cavern below the pyramid known as the High Priest's Grave in Chichén Itzá. The most distinctive features of the coffer are its cylindrical shape and intricate locking mechanism, which make it the most important find ever to have come out of Chichén Itzá, The complex mechanics of the device, which is similar in construction to a Chinese puzzle box, prove that the Maya were much more capable builders than previously believed.
For many years, the coffer was thought to be curse, as its first four owners perished under mysterious circumstances. It is now known that its lock mechanism contains poisoned needles that jab anyone who attempts to open it without having entered the proper combination. Yet, despite the fact that the coffer is now better understood, old beliefs and superstitions have dissuaded any further attempts at opening it. Unfortunately, radiography has yielded few clues about the contents of this unique coffer, which currently resides in the Louvre museum of art and history.
This beautiful sword remains one of the finest relics of the medieval perio. Its masterfully engraved forged steel blade is embellished with intricate ornamental designs from the very tip down to its elegantly simplistic hilt, which is punctuated with a 4 carat diamond.
Thought to have been lost forever after taken by Philip Augustus in the siege of Château Gaillard in 1204, this masterpiece was unearthed almost a millenium later during excavation of a condemned French Château. The sword had apparently been in the collection of a wealthy baron, who hid his valuables in an underground bunker during World War II. They remained there for almost three-quarters of a century, until rediscovered in the year 2015.
The Codex Atlanticus is Leonardo da Vinci's codex on flight. It contains his collected observations on the flight of birds, as well as designs for flying machines, and other thoughts on how flight can be achieved by humans. The codex Atlanticus, like all of d Vinci's other codices, is written in Latin mirror writing, giving us a glimpse of his secretive nature. It is not known whether any of the flying machines designed by da Vinci were ever built; if so, they were certainly not capable of flight. However, as his designs and concepts could be seen in working flying machines centuries later, there's no denying that da Vinci must be credited as the father of the flying machine.
The interactive sculpture entitled "Self Awareness" is one of a series recovered from the derelict space station Amarax in A.D. 2282 that were later accredited to artist and biotechnologist Kenneth Farnstein. These sculptures have long been the subject of much speculation and controversy, as they followed a series of paintings, undoubtedly by the same author, which Farnstein himself credited to an artificial personality which he had created. Though his claims were never substantiated, there is enough evidence to have captured the world's imagination, and to this day people speculate as to whether Farnstein had succeeded in what no one to this day has achieved: the creation of true artificial life. Regardless of their origin, the sculptures gained immediate recognition as masterpieces.
- Humanity's long history of artistic endeavors has periodically allowed us mere mortals an occasional glimpse into the clarity of vision that is the domain of genius. The Van Goghs, Mozarts, Deuchateuses of this world have opened doors inside us with their work, for a moment bringing into sharp detail the foggy, fuzzy things at the peripheral edge of our own introspection. With an astounding series of multi-dimensional emotive constructions, the anonymous (I will never be convinced of the popular accrediting of Farnstein!) auteur of the self/here*LIFE sculptures places herself among the ranks of history's great cartographers of the soul.
- The pieces, which in their neutral form of luminous spheres are impressive enough for their unfathomable technology, have a physical presence that is impossible to convey in words, as indeed, they have evaded the most accomplished documentarians' attempts to capture them on web. The experience of reaching out to "Self Awareness," the visceral response as it disrobes and enfolds into a chronolog of unfiltered emotion, is one that must be felt in situ. One has the sense, as with all great art, that it is responding to you personally.
- What truly sets the self/here*LIFE works apart, however, beyond the controversy of their discovery and the novelty of their media, is the sense of unself-consciousness, as if the artist were simply purging herself of emotion, unfiltered by intellect, free of the pretensions of interpretation or analysis. One is left to wonder if the artist is not a child, unrestrained by the burden of 'understanding', but driven by the need to make tangible the elusive currents of life, as if to capture them in the frame of a canvas or the patterns of a projection were to somehow bind them, like the power of naming in arcane magic. But then, is that not what art has always been about?