Starting Low, Ending High

"Mark Twain" by Jim Brothers

"Mark Twain" by Jim Brothers

I placed Jim Brothers‘ monument of Mark Twain in Hartford, CT after an earlier deal fell through with a scheming Missouri businessman who tried to “commission” the piece from Jim, meaning the guy wanted it for next-to-nothin’. The City of Hartford bought it in 1994-although for far less than what Jim gets now.

Why did I take the lesser price?

You know why: I desperately needed to place one of Jim’s monuments in a national venue, even if we had to do it for less than we wanted to.

The upside of down

Using this as a springboard, I was able to exponentially increase Jim’s prices over time, until eventually he could command the fee he wanted. If we hadn’t placed that first piece in so prominent a location, this would have been much more difficult to achieve.

When you’re starting out, you will likely deal with much the same thing. The point is, later on you must be bold enough to ask what you’re worth, once you establish what you’re worth. You’ve paid your dues, no need to go on paying them.

My placement strategy

Why did we place it in Hartford when everyone knows that Twain was from Missouri, and most people associate him with this state? The truth is, Twain got the heck out of Hannibal the first chance he got. He built and lived in a mansion in Hartford, CT for 25 years, know as the Mark Twain House & Museum.

But in the end, it comes down to the art

The noteworthy thing about this Jim’s monument? It’s all in the face.

Twain’s life, like that of most artists, was an emotional roller coaster. His mood swings were enormous, and his last years were plagued with depression, despair and bitterness.

His middle years were the happiest of his life, but after his bankruptcy, the loss of two children to disease, and eventual estrangement from one of his daughters, he was never able to regain his former vigor.

All of this wear and tear shows in the face, which Jim sculpted flawlessly, and faithfully. He dared to show the real man rather than the myth. And when it comes to history, I am not particularly interested in myths.

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