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How I threw away a work of modern art

From BBC - November 2, 2017

To me, it looked like a child's crude attempt at a mosaic. About a dozen small square tiles of different colours. Glued to the wall in a geometric design vaguely resembling a face with two square eyes.

It stood out in the otherwise empty and dingy Paris flat. Once my home, I was moving back in, after nearly 20 years away. My tenants, three young single men, were showing me round before they left.

"What's that?" I asked, pointing at the cluster of tiles.

"That's by Invader," my tenant replied. "He's a street artist. He's like a French Banksy."

I quite liked Banksy, but the young man must have seen that I did not appear overly impressed by his French counterpart.

"You must leave this," he said earnestly. "One day it will be worth a lot of money."

Being British, I nodded politely - but inwardly I chortled at the notion that a few tiles stuck on a bedroom wall could ever be considered a work of art.

Trying to prove I was not too old to get it, I said: "It reminds me of something." After struggling for a few seconds to recall exactly what, I exclaimed triumphantly: "Tetris!"

Now it was his turn to look dubious, so I explained: "You know, the video game from the 80s." "Not Tetris," he said, mock-patiently. "Space Invaders. The mother of modern video games."

He added: "The artist came to one of our parties and ended up staying a few months. It was his way of saying thank you. Now we are leaving it for you."

Read more about Invader

My neighbours had complained over the years - with varying degrees of indignation and perhaps envy - that the three young men had thrown raucous parties nearly every weekend. The flat was such a wreck that my tenant admitted that, when he was working during the week as an up-and-coming executive, he stayed at his girlfriend's.

Now he was getting married, while I was about to transform the bachelor party pad back into a respectable bourgeois home.

I duly promised the young men that I would look after the artwork and thanked them for leaving it. But then the builders came to replaster and repaint the room.

"I might leave that," I told them.

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