The Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos once commissioned Salvador Dali to paint his portrait. Dali agreed, setting a price of $15,000, and went to work. During the first sitting, however, Dali was incensed by Niarchos's departure as soon as his face had been drawn in. Dali, Niarchos pragmatically explained, could complete the rest without him.

Dali, peeved, duly painted a naked body beneath the face -- and raised his fee to $25,000. Niarchos, equally peeved, utterly refused to pay, whereupon Dali simply redoubled his price and sold the painting to Niarchos's nemesis, Aristotle Onassis.

Some time later, Niarchos had lunch with Onassis -- and was shocked to find his portrait hanging on his rival's dining-room wall. "All right, how much do you want?" he asked with a sigh. "Seventy-five thousand dollars," Onassis replied.

Niarchos, having paid five times the original fee, took the painting home and buried it in the back of a closet.

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