The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) finally traded me this after I sent their curator a number of threatening emails.
You can read that series by clicking on this hyperlink (what's a hyperlink you ask? I'm not telling. You're too dumb.)
Well months later, after we had done the trade - and then I had traded Eliana away to someone who glued a tiara and a mink stole on her and stored her in an outhouse - the gentleman who originally sent her to the Museum of Bad Art inquired as to her whereabouts.
Subject: what happened to my painting?
i sent you a beautifully atrocious painting, at considerable expense, last year. it's of the pointy chinned lady with the black hair and the yellow scarf. you never let me know if you received it and if so, if you found it suitable for your collection. now i see you are auctioning off rejects and i don't know if you are planning to auction off my painting, but i would prefer to get it back if you don't find it appropriate for your collection. please email me back.
To which, Mike, the Curator of MOBA, responded:
It has come to my attention that you were the generous donor of the portrait Eliana, the pointy chinned lady with the black hair and the yellow scarf. It has also come to my attention that you have received no response since shipping the painting, at considerable expense, to MOBA; clearly an example of unacceptably bad manners on our part.
As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales so eloquently stated in response to the recent brouhaha about the inappropriate injection of politics into Justice Department personnel decisions, "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility." Like Mr. Gonzales, I accept responsibility, but do not intend to resign my post or suffer any real personal consequences. While he accepted the resignation of his chief of staff of Kyle Sampson, I have decided to fire the entire MOBA Acquisitions Department.
I can assure you that Eliana will not be sold at auction with the "Rejection Collection, and that she is loved in her current home.
We have developed a relationship with a woman in Seattle who has an ongoing project she calls "bARTer sauce". She collects pieces of unusual art and barters them on her web site: bartersauce.com .
A few months ago she offered for trade a particularly interesting painting "The Better to See You With, My Dear", which I believed belonged in our permanent collection. Official MOBA policy forbids us from deaccessioning anything from our collection without a vote of our Board of Directors so I went deep into the bowels of the MOBA Storage Department in search of an appropriate piece to trade, and came across "Eliana". It had not been accepted into the collection and there was no record of the painting's provenance, so I offered it to bARTer sauce, and we eventually made the swap. When you sent an email a few weeks ago inquiring about the painting, the Permanent Acting Interim Director and I looked at each other and said in unison, "Uh-oh!". I contacted bARTer sauce hoping to retrieve the painting for our collection, but learned it was traded to a woman named Lisa, who "had a vision for Eliana that included putting a tiara and a fur stole on her."
I'm sure you can appreciate the fact that many art lovers such as yourself donate pieces to MOBA. Paintings arrive via US Mail, UPS, etc. or are simply left in our gallery in Dedham, MA (often anonymously). Our policy always has been to accept all donations gratefully, with the understanding that will not be returned. We tell prospective donors that their piece may or may not be accepted into our permanent collection but that, once they send something to us, they never have to worry about seeing it around the house again. From time to time we cull the art that has not been entered into our collection from our vaults and offer it sale at auction. Every item is sold with an official MOBA rejection certificate, and we earn thousands of dollars for charities such as the Salvation Army.
It is also our policy, and obviously good manners, to acknowledge receipt and report the disposition of donations such as yours. I can not explain how it happened, but must apologize for the fact that your information was separated from "Eliana", and that you received no communication from MOBA in response to your generous donation.
We intend to learn valuable lessons from from this embarrassing lapse. In addition to firing the entire Acquisitions Department (actually I simply reported the whole lot of them to the federal immigration authorities) I have asked Parker McGurl, a long-time MOBA volunteer whose many talents include systems analysis, to entirely revamp the procedures we use to record submission information.
I have attached photos of "Eliana" before and after her alteration as well as "The Better to See You With, My Dear".
I apologize once again for this entire incident, and hope you will continue to be a friend of MOBA.
As always I remain,
Michael Frank, Curator-in-Chief
Museum of Bad Art
And XXXX responded:
Subject: Re: what happened to my painting?
wow, what a great story! thank you so much for taking the time to let me know Eliana's fate. the tiara and the mink collar are fitting and i am pleased that someone cared so much. of course i will continue to be a fan and supporter of moba. perhaps someday i will even achieve the greatest honor---contributor.
Phew! That was close.