NARRATOR: In this painting by David Diao, titled Home Again, you see four images of one of his earlier paintings, a blue geometric canvas called Barnett Newman: the Paintings in Scale. Each image of the painting is carefully annotated. Home Again traces the circuitous path of this earlier painting from Diao’s studio, through two auctions, and finally back into the artist’s own possession—back home, as the title suggests. The work’s first owners took it to an auction house fourteen years after buying it, and sold it without a reserve—meaning that there was no minimum price that needed to be met before the painting could be sold.
DAVIDDIAO: So instead of achieving a high price that the estimate would have assumed you to get, it only achieved like seven thousand dollars, which is about one seventh of what the painting had originally sold for.
NARRATOR: When an artist’s work sells for less than its estimate, it can hurt the artist financially. David Diao.
DAVIDDIAO: I found out about this and was of course immediately amazingly angry, and wrote to the people and said how could you do this? And of course they don’t respond.
NARRATOR: A few years later, Diao found out that the painting had come up for auction yet again.
DAVIDDIAO: I zoomed in and decided this was a chance for me to get the painting back because it would be at a price I could probably afford. And lo and behold, I got it back. And I was so astounded that I achieved this, that I decided to make a painting of the history of this painting, beginning with when it was made, the first auction, the second auction, and the final frame, Home at Last.