Calm Down About that Modigliani, Scott

Sometimes it's easier to be konfused by the Kardashians than to keep up with them. Take for example, Sunday night's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians , in which Kourtney and her boyfriend Scott Disick inherited a Modigliani painting from his late parents, and were very excited about the prospect of getting rich if it turned out to be valuable. A couple questions here. 1) What is a Modigliani? and 2) Aren't they already rich? I mean, they might not have Kimye money, but considering Scott's car collection, I'm pretty sure Kourtney and Scott do very well for themselves. So back to that first question, then.

In the episode, Scott doesn't care about the painting at all, until Kourtney tells him it could be worth $100 million. The first appraiser they call in says it could be a real Modigliani but they should get another opinion, and Scott immediately begins dreaming of a private jet (though surely he could just ask Kanye for one for Christmas). The bad news comes, however, when the second appraiser, who presumably was not given a script by E!, sends the painting to a lab, where it is deemed a fake. Anyone watching probably didn't feel too bad about a Kardashian kouple losing out on $100 million, but you were still probably curious who Modigliani is and why his paintings are worth so much.

It turns out, Modigliani's paintings are so valuable for a simple reason: there aren't many of them. A February New York Times article explained how difficult it is to prove that any painting is a Modigliani, because they're some of the most popularly forged pieces of art ever. Different people use different catalogues, but one of the most trusted lists of all of Modigliani's works is that created by Ambrogio Ceroni, which claims there are 337 works.

That's not many considering how many people appear to want them, however it's a ton when you realize that Amadeo Modigliani had a very short career, dying in 1920 at just 35 years old of tubercular meningitis. And while his short career makes the paintings valuable, the difficultly of authenicating them significantly lowers that value, because no one wants to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a fake.

In fact, Kourtney was probably off with her $100 million estimate. In February 2013, a Modigliani sold for $42 million at a competitive auction. So maybe it will make Scott feel better to know that even if the painting from his parents' house had been the real thing, it still wouldn't have been quite the payoff he was hoping for.

I guess he and Kourtney will just have to settle for being super-rich instead of ultra-rich.

Images: E!, bricesander/Tumblr