Two Nude Ladies on a Beach in Tahiti.
Paul Gauguin spent the last dozen years of his life in the islands of French Polynesia and it’s the art he produced there for which he is best known.
Three decades ago, I traveled to those islands four or five times because my advertising agency had hotel clients on Tahiti, Huahine and Bora Bora.
There is, in fact, a Gauguin Museum on Tahiti. It’s a modest facility, although quite well done and well worth taking the time to visit. There’s a lot of biographical information and an interesting sampling of his work, most of which were drawings. When I was there, the only paintings on display were reproductions.
That’s when I hatched an idea that not only could generate favorable publicity for two of my clients but, at the same time, be of significant benefit to that little museum on Tahiti.
The Honolulu Museum of Art has a magnificent Gauguin oil in their collection: Two Nudes on a Tahitian Beach. If I could get them to loan their original oil painting to the museum in Tahiti, my airline client, South Pacific Island Airways, would fly both the painting and the museum people down to Tahiti at no cost. My other client, the Hotel Taharaa in Papeete, would provide accommodations for the director and also host a reception at which the painting would be formally received by the local government. Following that event, the painting would go on display for 60 or 90 days at the Gauguin Museum.
To my delight, all the parties seemed agreeable and I could visualize all that positive publicity for my clients. Even better, an important original Gauguin oil would be on display where it had been created more than a half-century earlier.
And then someone asked a critical question: the painting was worth a great deal of money; who’s going to pay for the insurance? Of course–duh!– that had never occurred to me.
The silence that followed was deafening and the whole plan was stone cold dead at that moment. I can’t remember what the insurance would have cost, but of course it was too much and, alas, the Two Nudes never made it to their Tahitian Beach. In the big picture, that really was a pity.