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If you wrote a book, and your main character was a 23 year old ivy league graduate who came from the wealthiest family to ever walk the earth, what would you have him do?
If you had him travel to the remotest parts of the world to work as a cameraman documenting the last "stone age" societies, had him return home upon word of his parents divorce, and then return again to the wilds to become near family to the natives, collect as much indigenous art as possible, then go missing after a seriously overloaded canoe capsizes 3 miles from shore, you'd have the real life story of the collector of this piece.
If you then had his family use their wealth to search for him, and to actually investigate local rumor that their son had become a native, worshipped as a white god, and purposely had become one of the tribe, your editor would scribble it all out, for it really is too unbelievable.
Yet, it happened. The artwork here is from the vast collection the 23 year old sent home.
His body was never found. Rumors of cannabalism, tribal retribution, and a long life living with the natives still abound. Though most researchers favor a more simple, yet still grim, end coming with the capsized boat.
To say "all that remains" doesn't quite fit here, as the remains are vast, the man collected tons of art. The family gave away over 2 billion to the arts and other cultural exhibits in NY, and continues in that line today.
All that remains is worth more than the GNP of a few small nations.
Amazing to see a documentary recently where this very object is shown being handled by natives and displayed during a ritual preceding violence to another tribe.
Local history, in a way.
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