AE Monthly

Articles - September - 2011 Issue

Dead Men Tell Tales

Butch cassidy

Front row: Sundance on the left, Cassidy on the right

In fact they won’t shut up and apparently also do not die.  Lest you assume from the headline that death has been conquered the answer in one particular case is alleged to be stayed but not stopped.  For those who have seen Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you may remember that the story ends without confirming these men’s deaths.  It looked to be a matter of poetic license that in fact has turned out to be prophetic according to a keen-eyed collector in Utah who has announced he has Mr. Cassidy’s personal account of his depredations – dated 1934. The news in MacArthur like terms is – old robbers never die, they just fade away slowly.

Mr. Cassidy is thought to have died of lead poisoning in a shootout in Bolivia in 1908.  As luck would have it a keen-eyed collector acquired a post-death account of Mr. Cassidy he is now convinced is Mr. Cassidy’s thinly veiled autobiography.  First person post death accounts are rare.  Lincoln is said to have appeared to his wife after he died but he was a piker by comparison for he didn’t give her even a single scrap of paper with his post–death signature.  However, what he was unable to do himself others later did for him - creating a growing body of signed documents that are projected in time to total a million or more.  Were they all in his hand he would have died of exhaustion long before Booth shot him.  European artists, Dali, Picasso, Klee and Matisse have been similarly honored.  Forgers, apparently believing they could divine artist intentions sought to increase supply après la morte works.  Such items are in fact signed homages, that is, signed by forger on behalf of the artist.  That such works are mistaken for the real thing cannot be attributed to a desire for fame on the part of forgers because they never disclose their involvement. They are not only skilled, they are shy.

AE Monthly


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