The Billionaire Art Collector and the Sidewalk Artist

Isaiah is an aging black billionaire art collector who could instantly correlate an artwork to its dollar value. He did not really have an ‘eye’ for good art, but for rich art buyers. He could tell if a painting would sell based on his psychic view of his art buyers. He had an inventory of art buyers in his photographic memory. It was a marketing gift more than an art gift.

He frequented unknown sidewalk artists at Central Park and Washington Square Park in New York, guised as a cheap art connoisseur in sneakers and T-shirt. He studied their works for hours, until he finally selected pieces, which he bought at a tiny fraction of their value in a gallery or auction. This was how he became a billionaire within three years.

eastwind journals, May 5, 2022 (archives tr244)

By Bernie V. Lopez,

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He decided to look into ‘eastern art’, visiting Manila, where there were plenty of budding artists in a genre so different from the west. He stumbled into a street art exhibit by a dozen artists at Arroceros Park, a tiny forest of green within the city of cement. He wore slippers and shorts, of course.

Dante, an aging Filipino artist, an alcoholic, bald on top but with long white hair, caught his eye. Trained by a Chinese watercolor guru, he did a quick watercolor painting of a Bengal tiger in just 3 minutes. Isaiah was profoundly impressed. He offered a measly 200 pesos for it. This type of art would not sell in big time auctions, but Isaiah was intrigued by the old man’s dexterity. Dante was as much an art psychic as Isaiah. He could ‘smell’ Isaiah a mile away. In fact, they could ‘smell’ each other instantly.

ISAIAH – Do you do oil?

Dante showed him a rolled-up canvas from his huge bag, a painting of a fisherman with a toothless smile, holding up a gigantic glistening red lobster. Isaiah was in awe. He knew instantly that Joshua, his Jewish buyer, would buy it for a good $1.3 million easily.

ISAIAH – (Showing indifference.) Not really my type. How much?

Dante knew he was pretending. If Isaiah was street-smart, so was he, four-fold.

DANTE – 4 million pesos. You can sell this in the States for 800,000 dollars or 40 million pesos. I am asking for 10% of US value.

ISAIAH – You’re kidding.

Without a word, Dante rolled up the painting and put it back in his bag.

ISAIAH – Wait.

Dante knew he had Isaiah under his thumb, who took a cellphone photo of the lobster painting and sent it to Joshua instantly in New York. Sold at $1.4 million. That was how good Isaiah was.

Isaiah asked for more oil paintings. Dante unrolled half a dozen more, all putting Isaiah in awe. There was one with 30 people carrying a bamboo house, another a boy shining the shoes of a gentleman. He offered to buy all seven paintings for 30 million pesos or 600,000 dollars. He sent photos to buyers in New York, and instantly sold all seven for 5 to 6 billion dollars total before he even bought them from Dante. Dante heard everything but did not jack up his price.

ISAIAH – What are you going to do with all that money?

DANTE – (Pointing to a flattened carton box where he slept on the sidewalk every night). First, a buy a house. Second, I get rid of the alcohol in my veins. Third, I visit you in New York.

ISAIAH – How do you know I am a New Yorker?

DANTE – I stayed in New York ten years. I’ve heard about this black billionaire of Central Park. I know the prices of your art collection. I’m doing you a favor selling these super-cheap.

Dante visited Isaiah in New York and made a pile from his oil paintings. They became good friends. In their old age, they made up a ‘bucket list’ and embarked on a world tour to make 100 paintings, a partnership of a billionaire and a millionaire, for a grand exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

After the exhibit and millions of dollars later, they sat on a lonely beach in Honda Bay in Palawan, Philippines. Dante saw a 4-year-old boy holding a live horseshoe crab. He ran for his watercolor set, and did a painting in 9 minutes flat.

ISAIAH – (Examining the painting.) Okay, I’ll buy it for 50 million pesos.

DANTE – Not for sale, amigo.

The painting sold for $1.8 million in New York. They flew back to Honda Bay to give half of the money to the mother of the boy, who was crying profusely. The boy hugged Isaiah. From rags to riches.

DANTE – I’m tired of bucket lists.

ISAIAH – Me too. So what do we do?

DANTE – Let’s find more rags and make them rich.

ISAIAH – Great. I almost died when that boy hugged me.

Isaiah and Dante went around the islands, Dante frantically painting more poor kids roaming beaches in oil or watercolor. They would go once a month together to New York to sell the paintings. Once, they brought the kids with them, which doubled the price of their paintings. They were so happy making kids happy. The money was incidental.

ISAIAH – How good the Lord is to us.

DANTE – That’s because we are good to his children.

They built a huge church in Puerto Princesa, the capital.

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FOR THOSE WHO NEED HEALING, spiritual or physical (depression, anxiety, loneliness, terminal cancer, covid, diabetes, etc.) – say a healing prayer with one or both healers below. Terminal patients have been healed in cyberspace –

1) Father Fernando

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AUTHOR’S BOOK  – Wings and Wanderlust – Discovering Your Inner Self. At age 26, the author hitchhiked 25,000 kilometers in Europe and North Africa for three straight years. In this book of his wild adventures, he learned deep insights that changed him totally, which he wants to share with readers. It also a guidebook on how to plan your own adventure.

Order a paperback or an e-book. For paperbacks, if you are a Philippine resident, save on shipping cost by ordering by email at For e-books, if you have an IPAD, download the app ‘kindle’. For non-IPADS, buy a kindle device (check guidelines.) –

Author’s Credentials. Blogger – ex-Columnist (Inquirer) – Healing Ministry – ex-Professor (Ateneo University) – Documentary Producer-Director (freelance, ex-ABS-CBN, ex-TVS Tokyo) – ex-Broadcaster (Radio Veritas) – Facebook “Bernie V. Lopez Eastwind” / Pages “Eastwind Journeys and Journals” and “Mary Queen of Peace”.


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