"The third item for the night is an exquisite piece of art by an unknown painter in the late thirteen hundreds. This particular piece has been with the King of Spain before it was gifted to his sister. Then it got stolen over the years but eventually recovered and given to the minister of U.K. who then gifted it to his daughter-in-law, who hailed from Japan," the auctioneer shared this brief history as a very beautiful painting of a woman wearing a medieval dress was unveiled to the public. "Ladies and gentlemen…I present to you 'The Maiden'."
Gasps and murmurs instantly filled the hall. A couple of men and women nodded their heads in appreciation while some looked at the auctioneer, waiting for him to reveal the starting price of this particular piece.
"The bidding will start at one million USD. I have one point five million… two million over here… I got three million… three million… ladies and gentlemen… three million... three point five…"
Lily shifted her gaze away from the auctioneer as she took a little sip of sparkling wine. "I was totally not expecting an auction like this..."
"What were you expecting?" he asked.
Lily shrugged in response. She had been through a lot of auctions, and this was honestly her first time seeing one as grand as this. "Well… it's just so extravagant."
"Half of the profits of this auction will go to the charities that my mother supported when she was still alive. We do this every year for her death anniversary," he answered, leaning on the soft cushion in his seat which looked like a throne in Lily's opinion.
They were inside one of the private rooms where people could observe or participate in the auction anonymously. In these rooms were some oversized black seats with red comfortable cushions, a small table for refreshments in the middle and a telephone to the left of one of the seats.
This telephone was connected to a professional bidder who would be the one bidding in their place. In front of them was a big and tinted floor to ceiling glass wall that would give them a view of the auction that was taking place below.
They also placed an LED TV on one end of the room in case the guests cannot see or hear the bidding that was happening below. Of course, Lily and Zhuo Jingren didn't need to turn on the TV as both of them could see what was happening below clearly.
"He is at the front row," Lily uttered. "He is waiting for you to bid."
"Hmmm… That painting is mine," he said. "It used to belong to my father."
"Then bid for it. Don't you want to earn more?" she stifled a laugh.
"Of course I do. But the price is not right yet," he said. After a couple of seconds, Zhuo Jingren unmuted his phone and uttered, "Twenty point five."
Adrian's eyes instantly lit the moment he heard Zhuo Jingren's bidder make a bid. Before the bidding even started he already asked his men to find out about Zhuo Jingren's bidder. He was already expecting the latter to be in one of those private room because of his status.
"Twenty-one million from the gentleman over here…" the auctioneer held his hand towards Adrian when he saw the latter raised his hand. "Twenty-one point five million…. At Twenty-one point five million … Twenty-one point five"
"Twenty-three Million!" Adrian raised his voice even before the auctioneer could say it.
"Twenty-three Million… Twenty-three Million anyone? Twenty-three point five! Twenty-three point five million…." The Auctioneer met Adrian's eyes. "Twenty-three point five million kind sir?"
"Twenty four!" he answered before he sent a provocative glare towards Zhuo Jingren's way. According to his sources, Zhuo Jingren should be sitting in the third room. While it was tinted, he was sure that the latter was also staring at him. Adrian knew that he could not afford to offend Zhuo Jingren. So tonight, he does not really want to outbid him. All he wanted was to raise the price a little, making the latter pay for a much higher price.
Adrian glance at the painting that should be worth around seven or eight million. If he will stop now, Zhuo Jingren could pay an more than ten million US dollars of the original price. He looked at the VIP room once again a small smile was on his face. But this smile did not last long when he noticed that the auctioneer keep on repeating Twenty four million for a while now.
"Twenty four million? Twenty four last chance… Twenty four million!"
"Last chance Twenty four million? Anyone? Okay, sold!"
A boisterous applause echoed inside the hall as something cold seemed to envelop Adrian's body. Twenty-three point five million?
"Hey… are you alright?" Samantha asked, a smile was plastered all over her face. Despite the fact that the couple received another embarrassment when they arrived earlier, Samantha was still smiling, seemingly unaffected by the looks that everyone was giving them.
When they arrived a while ago, both Adrian and Samantha was shocked to find out that they actually got the dress code wrong! Both of them were wearing glittery and fancy mask with gown and three-piece suit! How embarrassing!
Adrian originally came here because of three things. First, he wanted to show off his beautiful fiancé to everyone. Second, he wanted to build some connections as everyone who came here are all influential and third, he wanted to make Zhuo Jingren pay a few more millions- as a payback for embarrassing him.
In Adrian's mind, what happened at the Bulgari was totally Zhuo Jingren's fault and not his. While Samantha would beg to disagree with this kind of reasoning, she really could not refute Adrian.
"Congratulations to the kind sir with number L0551." The auctioneer's voice interrupted Samantha's stupor.
"Hey… Are you alright?" Samantha's question only earned a glare from Adrian. Samantha only responded his glare with another smile before she excused herself and went to the bathroom to freshen up.
Since Adrian does not want her comfort, then why should she force herself? The man's attitude had been too much lately, she almost could not take it. Samantha also knew that she does not have a choice right now.
Samantha could only let out a sigh as she forced a smile on herself. She stared at her reflection on the mirror in front of her. And let out another sigh. She was already in the bathroom and to be honest, she does not feel like going back in the auction hall anymore.
"That was quite a show." Samantha almost jumped out as she stared wide eyed at Lily.
"Why are you here?" Samantha asked while trying to calm herself. She instantly washed her hands in an attempt to avoid Lily's gaze.
"I could ask you the same… but then again… this place is for women who would like to reapply their make up's no?" Lily was already standing next to Samantha. She was looking at her own reflection and smiled in approval. Lily then turned to look at Samantha a smile was on her face.
"I… You are making me uncomfortable." Samantha instantly blurted out. This Lily Zhuo is extremely different from the woman that they met yesterday. For some reason, she felt that this is a different woman at all. Is it possible that Miss Lily Zhuo have an evil twin?