Art History Icons Tell Millennials How to Buy a House

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Adapted from Lunch by Wayne Thiebaud at the de Young Museum.

Recently, millionaire real estate magnate Tim Gurner gave some helpful advice to millennials. If you want to afford a house, stop eating avocado toast and drinking coffee. As with many young people, this bit of street-smart savvy (the street being Rodeo Drive) changed my life. Who knew it was so simple!


To get more such gems of worldly wisdom, I took a journey through art history to interview some of the great figures of classical painting, and pick their brains on how better to achieve that elusive milestone for millennials: home ownership. I came back with five easy steps to buying a house, straight from the canvases and frescoes of old!


Marie Antoinette says,

Marie-Antoinette with the Rose by Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun, at the Palace of Versailles.


I sat down to get advice from Marie Antoinette, and this chick knows about real estate...she lived in Versailles, after all. From the woman who famously proposed cake as an affordable alternative to bread (actually, she never said her bio to find out why not), here are her best suggestions about the current housing crisis:


“If you want to buy a home, just give up cake. Sure, it’s a cheap substitute for bread in a pinch, but do you really need either. Also, tax peasants a helluva lot. I built a whole, private playhouse in the gardens of Versailles, and all I had to do was wave on the dessert cart and tax peasants at an obscene rate. They’ll kill you, but you’ll die happy!”


Thanks, Marie!


Kitty Fisher as Cleopatra says,

Kitty Fisher as Cleopatra Dissolving the Pearl by Joshua Reynolds, at Kenwood House.


Cleopatra allegedly dissolved a pearl in vinegar just to prove she could. Similarly, Kitty fisher ate money on bread to slam Casanova when he implied she was too cheap a harlot, even for him. Anyone who can afford to do that must know how to balance a checkbook, so we asked miss Kitty/Cleo to share her sage wisdom:


“So you want to buy a house? Well then, stop dissolving pearls in vinegar...just stop. It’s good for a laugh, but you’ll never own property if you keep literally liquidating your assets to impress people at parties. Do set aside a few hundred banknotes to eat, though. That’s the best revenge when a cocky-ass bro rejects you.”


Sardanapalus says,

Death of Sardanapalus by Eugene Delacroix, at the Louvre Museum.


Being king of Assyria has its downside. Rampant hedonism and opulence may seem like a good idea, but sooner or later, the Babylonians come knocking at your gate and kill your buzz. Sardanapalus told us:


“I thought I had it all; numerous concubines of both sexes, dozens of eunuchs and horses, a bed made of solid gold elephants...but all that was really just weighing me down. That’s why I piled it onto a giant pyre and set us on fire. You want to buy a home? Think about ways you can scale down your extras. Ditch your craft beers, your small batch whiskey, your bed made of solid gold elephants, and burn it all to the ground. Best part is, without being a slave to my possessions, I can just pick up and go backpacking through Southeast Asia any time I want...except that I burned myself and everyone around me to death. Bummer, man.”


John the Baptist Says,

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, at the National Museum of Ancient Art.


Salome didn’t have much business acumen. When given a choice between priceless jewels and a human head, she was like, “Well, I already have jewels, so…” Don’t be a Solome, ba a John the Baptist. He lost 11 pounds of baggage and found untold savings. Here’s what he had to say about it:


“I couldn't afford a house, either. Heck, I was living in a cave in the wilderness eating locusts when it suddenly dawned on me: It was time to economize. I didn't choose decapitation, decapitation chose me; but when God lops off your head, he opens a window. So, ask yourself, ‘do I really need a head?’ To think of all those resources I wasted on locust munchies, when I could have just detached my mouth from my digestive tract. The best part is, when you don’t have a head, you don’t even need a house. My body downsized to a shallow grave in potter’s field, and my head gets to crash on this sweet silver platter. Hey, is your apartment made entirely of precious metal? Didn't think so. It’s the tiny home revolution! Sometimes you have to lose a head to get ahead.”


It’s called economics, people.


God says,

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, at the Sistine Chapel.


It’s good to be God. Nobody asks God to pick up the bill for brunch. In fact, people pay Him 10% of their income. Somebody who can create financial opportunities (and, you know, entire universes) like that must know a thing or two about owning a home. You be the judge...actually, He will; he even has a day for it set aside in his schedule. In either case, God is trying to tell you something:


“If there’s one thing I can do, it’s real estate. I’ve got houses all over the world. Ever hear of Notre Dame? That’s my condo. Heaven is my #1 crib. While Snoop Dogg is having his little pool parties and sippin’ on gin and juice, I’m throwing back margaritas crystal-seaside with Princess Di and Ghandi. How do I do it? By being the omnipotent Lord Jehovah, creator of the Universe and one and only true God. Honestly, I don’t know why more people haven’t tried it! All that money paid for rent when you could just be the all-powerful master of creation. Then again, like Cuba and Vampire Weekend, it would be ruined if more people caught on. I mean, there can only really be one God, or else it’s too mainstream.”


There you have it. All this time, you were thinking there was something wrong with society. It was easy to blame a 1,120% increase in tuition fees, and an exponential increase in property values compared to a disproportionately low increase in the minimum wage, when in reality, you were the problem. At your age, previous generations were subjugating entire races of people and engineering what’s your excuse, you deadbeat? Put down your viral videos, your avocado toast, and your $4 coffee, and invest in property. All you need to do is exorbitantly tax peasants, stop your habit of dissolving priceless gems, set everything on fire, get beheaded, or be divine. What are you waiting for? The future is yours!

By: Griff Stecyk

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Griff Stecyk


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