Real or Fake?

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Is it real? Is it a fake? The answer to that question has everything to do with its value.

Van Gogh painted “Sunset at Montmajour” in 1888. It was painted during a very important period of his life when he did his best work. It is a painting of the landscape of Montmajour, in Provence with the Benedictine Abbey in the distance. It was a favorite place for Van Gogh to visit. Other masterpieces like “Sunflowers,” “The Yellow House,” and “The Bedroom” were painted during that period.

The painting has had an interesting history. In 1901, Van Gogh’s, brother, Theo owned the painting. When he died his widow sold it to a Paris art dealer, who in turn sold it to a Norwegian collector. When it was examined, it was declared to be a fake and not an original. After a couple of evaluations that determined it was a fake, that collector put it in his attic. He had made a bad investment. It stayed in the attic until 1970.

The owner took it to the Van Gogh museum in 1991, but experts again said it was not authentic. They went back a couple of more times, but the verdict was always that it was a fake.

New techniques have been developed for evaluating an authentic painting. It was recently taken back to the Van Gogh museum, and these new sophisticated technological tests were applied. They indicated that it is authentic. They also discovered that it was listed as a part of Theo van Gogh’s collection in 1890. It has “180” painted on the back which verifies that it is authentic because it corresponds to the same number in the collection inventory.

It is real! The value has not been completely determined, but it is expected to be “tens of millions and quite a few of them.” Some of Van Gogh’s paintings have sold for more than $80,000,000 – and that was several years ago.

For 112 years, a valuable painting has been considered to be a fake. It’s been sitting in an attic. But its value changed tremendously when it was declared authentic.

There are a lot of things that we invest our lives in that are fake. Most people think that if they can have enough money and financial security – that’s valuable. It does have some value, but financial security is always a fake. It will never bring ultimate happiness.

We all know people who try to portray that they are somebody that they are not. The persona that many people present is really fake. There is very little value in being a fake. One of the greatest treasures of life is to find friends who are real. A real friend is priceless!

We accumulate some things in life that might be more valuable than we realize. Sometimes we put them in the attic. Some incident in life that we think is insignificant – but God could use it as a stepping stone to His purpose for us. We could store away thoughts and dreams, only to discover that they are real and priceless. It is good to check our attics and see what is there – oftentimes the most valuable things in life are stored in the most unlikely places.

The greatest value of life is knowing why God created us, and then putting our lives in the center of His will for us. Everything else in life will ultimately prove to be a fake. What God created us for is more valuable than what Van Gogh painted, and we don’t have to wait for years to see if it is authentic. We can know today!

If a painting can move from an attic to a museum, a person can move from the sidelines of life trying to impress people to the game of life where we are real people living out God’s purpose.

That is priceless!

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