Review of Experts

Pierre Daix

The claim of the events surrounding the original drawing for the magazine hinges solely on his word - as he stated he was the one that asked for the drawing and he watched it being done in his presence - waited for it to dry - and took it straight to the magazine where it was printed.

Now the magazine and Mr. Daix stated that it was done for the 350th Anniversary of the first part of Cerventes book Don Quijote. The date corresponds with the first publishing having been in 1605 - but in previous correspondence between the pilot’s lawyer and the pilot - the pilot had questioned Mr. Daix’s claim stating that Cervantes completed the book in 1604 and sold it that year - then being published in 1605. The pilot stated in his letter with his lawyer that in reality 1955 would better relate to the 400th Anniversary of the character’s assumed birth date.  While the pilot had a point - it was kind of a mute one because although the book was finished in July of 1604 - it was not published until January 16, 1605.  I'll agree with the pilot that doing the anniversary in August is a bit late - but it was the prerogative of the magazine - and I would agree that the magazine was looking at the published year not the year that it was written...

However in Mr. Daix’s book published in 1987(Paris) and 1993 (English), he stated that

in the beginning of August, for ‘Lettres francais’ he did one of his most brilliant drawings - ‘Don Quichotte et Sancho Panca’ - to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Cervantes’ birth. While he was finishing the drawing, I waited in the park with Clouzot….

Cervantes was born in 1647, thereby making his 400th anniversary 1947, but that is not what the pilot had argued.  He had contended that 1955 would be closer to the 400th Anniversary of the character in the book - not the author of the book...

Not done in his presence

He had told the pilot it was done in his presence but the book says he waited in the park.  When questioned by IFAR, he clarified that he did wait in the park while Picasso worked on the drawing but came back when Picasso called him over and signed it in front of him and waited for the ink to dry.

Picasso was known to make very quick drawings - taking just a few minutes on average - why would Pierre Daix leave?  How far away was the park?

Who was Clouzet?

Clouzet was the filmmaker that had been filming a movie of Picasso. Picasso worked with Clouzet for the two months during the summer of 1955 (meaning right before this August drawing) where Clouzet filmed Picasso everyday - all day - while Picasso did drawings for the film.

The Mystery of Picasso - by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Picasso, His Life and Work - By Sir Roland Penrose pg 408-409

It seems difficult to believe that when Pierre asked Picasso to do this drawing - Picasso had him leave his presence to go sit with Clouzet somewhere else for a few minutes so that neither of them could watch him do it. Especially since Clouzet had been filming him everyday for his movie.

Pierre seems to suggest that the reason he had left was that Picasso was upset with Clouzet - and said that "his painting would go farther than his film"... Notice that Pierre wrote that Picasso said painting - not drawing... If Picasso was trying to show off as Pierre would indicate in this statement - why would he not have him watch?

Picasso never copied one of his works

Mr. Daix stated emphatically in his letter to the pilot that he did not know of any instance that Picasso ever copied one of his works. But Picasso has been known to copy his own works - specifically in 1948. In November 1948 Picasso painted two slightly different versions of The Kitchen, both monumental, monochrome, and virtually abstract. In her memoirs, Francoise Gilot tells the story of their making: "Pablo executed the first version of a large-format painting called The Kitchen, which was inspired by the kitchen at the Rue des Grands-Augustins in which we sometimes ate our evening meal. The room was painted all in white, and, apart from the usual utensils, there were two birdcages in it. The only accents of colour were the three Spanish plates hung on the walls. The kitchen was basically an empty white cube, enlivened only by the birds and the colourful plates. Pablo told me one evening: 'I am going to make a painting of that - that is to say, of nothing.' And that's exactly what he did. He drew a network of lines to structure the space and added a few concentric lines to create target - like shapes - the Spanish plates. In the background one could just make out the owl and the turtledoves. At this stage of the work he looked at the canvas and declared: 'I now see two possible directions for this canvas. Let's make a second version of it, exactly the same, and I will take it from there.'"

According to Fundación Picasso Málaga, which is a site containing explanations of particular issues, produced by the Picasso Foundation in order to provide extra information, apart from what is known from the Picassian chronology... The drawing was made on August 10, 1955. Picasso was at his residence in La Californie (Cannes), where he received the visit of his friend and biographer Pierre Daix who mentioned to Picasso that the weekly Les Lettres Françaises wanted to reproduce one of his pieces in recognition of the 350th anniversary of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”. The outcome of this conversation was Don Quijote y Sancho which was published on the 18th of August, in the 581st edition of Les Lettres.

According to this - Pierre Daix was the one who asked Picasso to reproduce on of his works.

Extensively Cataloged

The other main contention that the art critics seem to have is that Picasso’s works are all cataloged - extensively. But how would they know for certain? The artist did thousands of drawings, paintings, sketches, etc. Specifically, in May of 1947, Francois Gilot gave birth to Claude  -

Leaving the question of who was keeping track of all of his works in the Spring of 1947? 

Even John Richardson has stipulated that Zervos is often unreliable ….

  • "While “Zervos” is the most commonly cited reference to Picasso’s works, assessments of its usefulness vary widely: specialists consulted by ARTnews described it as anything from “pretty complete” to “incomplete” to “very incomplete” to “woefully incomplete.” In general, it is accepted as systematic and thorough with regard to the material it includes, and it offers the advantage of presenting the work as Picasso himself intended. But it is also described as an index more than a proper catalogue, lacking such information as dimensions and provenance. Its 13,000 entries do not include a large portion of Picasso’s production, most notably the thousands of works he kept for himself (many of which his heirs inherited). John Richardson, in hisA Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, characterizes Zervos’s entries as “scanty and often unreliable,” but also calls the catalogue “a godsend to scholars, collectors, curators, dealers, students, not to mention fakers.”  

Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

In the evaluation performed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - (The Boston Report) - the examiner thought the painting was obviously a forgery because the date only differed in year - and that the month and day were the same as the original drawing..., but that statement is not correct. The drawing in the magazine has the date 10-8-55 not 10-3-55. And when multiple other experts examined the painting they found no traces of pencil or the lines that this critic had claimed were blatant. 

Claude Picasso

Claude Picasso's statement was that “this was a fresh addition to his file”. Regardless of the fact that Claude Picasso had been sent the information several years before, if the painting was indeed a copy of a copy as Richardson suggested - one would figure that Claude would have seen something like this one before.

What if it is a forgery?

If we accept the art expert's opinions, then we need to re-examine the pilot's story. 

A man (a distinguished military pilot, professor, aeronautical engineer - because that part is not in dispute) in his later part in life - during the late 1970’s, while realizing that he becoming ill and hoped to find a way to provide for his wife after he passed away - looked at a print of the famous Don Quixote and thought to himself that the painting was made for him.

He came to this conclusion because he could make out his wife’s name, his signature, and perhaps a few letters of his last name. He then said to himself - I was a pilot in the Spanish Civil War - Picasso was my fellow countryman. I met him once while over in Paris... and then he let his mind wonder till he came up with a story that fit. Right - his mom lived in Barcelona and I flew from Paris to Barcelona - I did him a favor. That’s it…

Now I traveled to Paris - no - traveled to the not well known town in South France where he lived - and met him and he dedicated this painting to me - (again… in the 1970’s - before Google…) as I was his hero, but now I must prove it to the world.

 This story is starting to sound a little like Don Quixote...

But how can he prove it?  He decides that he needs to find a canvas, one from a long long time ago, and find paint - paint that used only pigments consistent from that time period - specifically pigments that Picasso used during that time period.  He needs to know the dimensions of the original drawing  (but how did he know the dimensions? perhaps he traveled there and looked at it? oh - wait - St. Denis said it has been locked in their basement the whole time - which conflicts with Claude Picasso’s statement that it was on display…and the Museum didn't open until 1981...)

So he gets close to the dimensions - he has an old canvas - he found really old paint - now he paints it.  He makes his last name more visible… and the date - it looks off in the prints - so he makes it look more proportionate - and changes it to say 1947 in order for his story to work.

But he needs a reason as to why he didn’t have photos of Picasso giving him the painting.  So he remembers that Picasso had a fascination with Leica cameras - so he made up a story that he gave this camera to Picasso.  But he decides that he might need more proof, so he takes a photo of the painting where it is obscured in the background and places it in one of the Kodak slide mats from maybe I need more proof. I know, I’ll take a photo of the painting - kind of obscured in the background - and I'll place it in one of the Kodak slide mats from 1954  - but leaves it in a box so that one day his son could find it and use it as proof. That should do it - and began his quest.

And then he carries out this quest relentlessly for 7 years until his death - but before dying tells his son that he must vindicate his name and prove its authenticity… and the son continues the struggle - taking the painting to get all of the scientific proof as verification and continues paying and paying to prove his father’s story for another 30 years.

This scenario is hard to accept. That’s a really - really - crazy story - if the pilot did what the experts would have you believe - wouldn’t the pilot actually be Don Quixote?

If the pilot actually had that much inside information about Picasso and access to all of the information surrounding the picture - wouldn't he have been aware that the 10-3-55 date was wrong? How do you go through that much trouble and be unaware of the date of the original publication in the magazine?

What if it is not a forgery?

Imagine that the pilot’s story is true.

The scientific data (given the pure impossibility of someone to have done all of the things necessary to have created a scenario in which it would be untrue…) shows the painting was done before the St. Denis drawing. The painting was done for the pilot - just as the pilot said - an emotional painting dedicated to a pilot who helped him during a devastating time - communicate with his beloved mother. A pilot who shows up at his home a month or so after the movie “Don Quixote de la Mancha” was released. An artist who drawing on the correlation of the current events and the past history with this pilot - creates a beautiful dedication to him and his wife.

Eight years later - a friend who works at a magazine - comes by Picasso’s home and says - hey - we are doing a piece on Don Quioxte’s 350th anniversary. Do you have something that you want to use for the magazine? Picasso tells him to go wait in the park while he puts together something. Then taking from the sketches that he had made from his painting done for the pilot - or Pierre having seen the sketches of the painting - asked him to reproduce it - Picasso did the now famous ink drawing and gave it to Mr. Daix.

Because Picasso had held such high regard for the pilot - as the pilot was endeared as a friend and countryman - a man that risked his own life to deliver a package to his mother - he felt it important to keep the names of his “Don Quioxte” and his dedication intact - as it was the only way he felt the image should be portrayed. But he waited to date the drawing in front of Mr. Daix and then sat with him while it dried… knowing that his dedication to a man he was forever grateful for would always be remembered. But just to be sure there was no confusion as to the drawing - before giving it to Mr. Daix he gave it the title - Don Quixote y Sancho - unlike the name he gave the pilot - simply Don Quixote de la Mancha - (the same name as the film that had just been released in 1947…)

Usually the simplest answers are the truth...

Original Don Quixote by Picasso

  • Owner of Original Don Quixote Painting

    Pilot meets Picasso and delivers satchel to his dying mother.

    During the Spanish Civil War a fighter pilot for the Spanish Republic was introduced to Picasso by the Spanish Ambassador in Paris. Picasso asked the fighter pilot if he would personally deliver a package to his dying mother. The pilot agreed and Mr. Picasso handed him a leather satchel to deliver.

    The pilot flew back to his assigned base near Barcelona, and delivered the package to Mr. Picasso’s mother. The pilot visited Picasso on similar mission several more times until Picasso's mother passed away. 

  • Original Don Quixote Oil Painting 1947

    Picasso paints the Don Quixote as a gift to the pilot.

    Mr. Picasso presented the pilot with a gift in appreciation for the favor that the pilot had done for Mr. Picasso in 1938. The gift was an oil on canvas painting of Don Quijote de la Mancha, dedicated to the pilot and his wife with their names inserted within the painting...

    Picasso’s explanation for the subject matter was that he had selected the subject of Don Quijote as personification of the great struggle, especially in the air, that the pilot had been engaged in, against impossible odds.

    Picasso told the pilot that “No one can ever deny that I painted this for you - as I have made your names part of the painting itself”...Picasso had incorporated the wife's name (Ann), the pilot's name, and the family's last name (underlined) scrolling across the bottom of the painting just above Picasso's signature and date.

    Picasso gave the family two more oil paintings and the pilot bought an additional painting before they left.

  • Magazine Reproduction of Don Quixote

    Reproduction of Don Quixote print made for magazine

    On August 10, 1955, Picasso was at his residence in La Californie (Cannes), where he received the visit of his friend and biographer Pierre Daix who mentioned to Picasso that the weekly Les Lettres Françaises wanted to reproduce one of his pieces in recognition of the 350th anniversary of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”. The outcome of this conversation was Don Quijote y Sancho which was published on the 18th of August, in the 581st edition of Les Lettres.

  • Sotheby's New York

    Letters to Sotheby's

    The pilot for personal reasons, decided to sell his painting and contacted Sotheby’s in order to have the painting offered for auction, but the auction house disregarded his letter immediately - stipulating that he had a fake.

    December 8, 1979 - Letter from Sotheby's was a very short response stating that "Apparently the prints are copies after the prints by Picasso…”

    December 12, 1979 - The pilot sent a follow up letter to the Head of Oil Paintings Department for Sotheby explaining how he came into possession of the painting.

    January 17, 1980 - The pilot brought the painting to Sotheby's New York office for personal inspection. At this meeting, the painting was determined in her opinion to be “painted-over-print”, and furthermore that Picasso “was not creating this type of work in 1947”.

    February 1, 1980 - The Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s wrote the pilot asking him to provide additional third party proof to provide as evidence as to the authenticity of the painting.

  • Letters with Pierre Daix

    Letters with Pierre Daix

    April 15, 1981 - The pilot hired an attorney to assist him with authentication. The lawyer wrote to Mr. Pierre Daix and sent the pilot’s testimony along with pictures of the painting.

    Pierre Daix immediately responds on April 24th, and replied (translated) as follows:

    Dear Sir: I have well received your letter and accompanying photographs. The original design of Don Quixote was made for the newspaper which I was manager, in my presence, on the 10th of August 1955, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the book of Cervantes. This design was presented to the Museum of St. Denis France. There do not exist any other edition printed of this design other than the original number of copies printed. This design has also been used in reproductions, notably on ceramics. During the course of his long life, I do not know of any instance that Picasso ever copied one of his works."

  • Dr. Preisner - Penn State University Art Museum

    The pilot sent the painting to the Curator of the Penn State University Art Museum for evaluation.

    The pilot reached out to Dr. Olga Preisner - the Curator of the Penn State University Art Museum on August 24, 1981 to perform tests on pigments and canvas using X-Ray photography. After performing a series of tests and performing a signature evaluation, she determined the painting to be - authentic without doubt.

    Dr. Preisner provided the pilot with additional contacts for experts who could assist him with appraisals and additional authentication.

  • Picasso Museum

    Picasso Museum

    The pilot sent a letter to the Picasso Museum in Paris with photos of the painting along with his testimony, and requested information about the drawing from 1955 that Pierre Daix had written about.

    The Picasso Museum in Paris wrote back to the pilot on September 28, 1981 stating that the original Picasso drawing was done in Indian Ink - dimensions 43cm x 35cm (16 15/16” x13 9/32”) - was executed in 1955 and preserved in the Art and History Museum of San Denis.

  • Musee d’ Art et d’Histoire in Saint-Denis

    The pilot sent a letter to the Musee d’ Art et d’Histoire in Saint-Denis, France on October 20, 1981 asking if the museum would be kind enough to inform him of the materials used by Picasso, the dimensions of the original, if it is a painting, drawing, or sketch, the year it was presented to the Museum, and who presented it.

  • Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

    The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

    The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston sent a letter to the pilot with the services available and the fees for each service. In the letter the museum expressed that these results may not be either complete or conclusive.

    The museum further expressed - "With regard to the dating of your painting, I am afraid that there are no scientific techniques for the absolute dating of a paint layer. Sometimes conclusions as to date may be drawn from the presence of certain pigments for the use of some of which terminal dates are known. I do not see however, how that would be applicable to a painting executed as recently as 1945, especially where the painting in question is done in a quite limited palette.

  • St. Denis Museum

    2nd letter requesting information from the Museum in St. Denis

    By December 31, 1981, the pilot had not received a response from his first letter requesting information, so he wrote again, asking the museum if they had any information about the drawing.

  • St. Denis Museum

    Musee d’ Art et d’Histoire in Saint-Denis

    On January 22, 1982, the pilot received a response from the Museum in St. Denis. In this letter the Museum stated that the design is in Indian Ink on white paper measuring 65cm x 60cm (25.5906” x 23.622”). The letter also stated that the work was donated by Picasso on November 28, 1955.

    There seems to be a discrepancy as to the size of this original. The Picasso Museum stipulates - 43 cm x 35 cm while the Museum in St. Denis states it is 65 cm x 60 cm.

    The Musee d’ Art et d’Histoire in Saint-Denis did not open until 1981, and there is no mention of the drawing on their website, nor any exhibit of the drawing having ever been displayed there.

  • Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

    Boston Museum of Fine Arts

    The pilot with his son - took the painting to Boston in January for evaluation. In February, the report came back with the determination that the painting was a forgery. The opinion of the examiner was that the painting was "virtually identical to the well-known and often reproduced lithograph by Picasso, with only a few very small differences. Of major importance among these is the difference in the date, which, coincidentally, differs only in the year, being identical as to month and day."

    Although the Boston Report - after future examinations and evaluations had been performed - has zero validity - it is why the pilot had to fight until his death - to prove that this report was wrong.

  • Sworn Affidavit of Testimony

    Sworn affidavit

    By July 1982, the pilot was facing the fact that he was dying and would not live long enough to redeem his name or integrity. He went before the court and did a sworn affidavit of his story and his claim of authenticity of the painting by Picasso.

    Later in 1985, the pilot gave a full detailed video deposition of his testimony before his death in 1986.

  • Claude Picasso

    Claude Picasso

    The pilot's representatives sent a complete package of information to Claude Picasso - including the pilot's testimony, video deposition, and photos of the paintings owned by the pilot. The letter also asked if it would be possible for Claude to check with Francois Gilot (Claude's mother) to see if she had any information about the paintings since she was living with Picasso during that time. The letter expressed great urgency explaining that the pilot was near death and wanted to have his affairs in order before he passed.

  • Pierre Daix book - Picasso: Life and Art

    "Picasso: Life and Art" by Pierre Daix

    In the book "Picasso: Life and Art" by Pierre Daix published in Paris -1987, Pierre Daix's testimony of the events surrounding the Don Quixote contradict his previous letter to the pilot's lawyer.

    In his book - Pierre Daix not only says that he was not actually with Picasso when Picasso did the drawing - but he also quotes Picasso as referring to the Don Quixote as a painting (not a drawing).

    Pierre Daix states that it was made for the 400th Anniversary of Cervantes. The publication in the magazine clearly states that it was done for the 350th anniversary of the publishing of the book by Cervantes. The only person who ever questioned the 350th anniversary was the pilot, who made an argument that 1955 would more closely be the 400th anniversary of the character Don Quixote.

    The pilot was the only one to make this argument. For Pierre Daix to write that it was done for the 400th anniversary shows that Pierre Daix was not only unsure about his recollection in his book - but that he was unsure enough about the testimony of the pilot - that he cross referenced the pilot's story into his retelling of the events.

  • Maurice Jardot

    Picasso Committee

    The pilot's representatives continued working for the pilot's family after the pilot passed away to obtain authentication for the painting. They reached out to members of the Picasso Committee and sent letters, photos, and the video deposition of the pilot to the Committee for their review.

  • International Foundation for Art Research

    The family's representatives reached out to the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) in efforts to assist the family in authenticating the oil painting of Don Quixote by Picasso in 1947.

  • Francoise Gilot

    One of the representatives wrote to the pilot's son in regards to her attempt to communicate with Francoise Gilot. She wrote "I went to Los Angeles a couple of months ago and arranged a meeting with the owner of the gallery that has been exhibiting paintings by Francoise Gilot. She was impressed with the material that I brought with me (our file), to the extent that she wanted a copy of the videtape to show Gilot. She was away with her husband (Jonas Salk) and did not return to California until late August . Meantime, I had a copy made of the VTR and sent it.

    Bottom-line, is that Gilot wouldn't even look at the material or the tape . Very disappointing. She simply stated that she does not authenticate any Picasso paintings. We explained that we didn't anticipate her authentication, but rather, perhaps a remembrance of one of the paintings, or the camera ... or anything from that point in time? But, she was plainly adamant. I imagine that this is some agreement she must have with her children, Claude and Paloma, who form two of the members of the Comite in Paris."

  • Photo shows painting before 1955

    The pilot's son sent Kodak slides that he found in 1991 for analysis to Dr. William J. Croft - a research chemist - for examination. The slides were a series of photos taken by the pilot in 1954 and were pictures taken when the son was a young boy. In the background of one of the slides a glimpse of the painting can be seen in the background. The examination of the slides prompted Dr. Croft to send a letter to John Richardson (a Picasso expert) to inform him of the existence of the painting before 1955.

  • Dr. Walter C. McCrone

    McCrone Research Institute confirmed the painting dated before 1950.

    In 1993, the findings of the evaluation from the McCrone Research Institute were confirmed that the painting was made before the Indian Ink Drawing created in 1955.

    Among the scientific tests that the McCrone Research Institute performed to make this determination were pigment testing, carbon dating, and evaluation of the Kodak slides.

    Dr. Walter C. McCrone

    Dr. Walter C. McCrone (1916 – 2002) is often referred to as the Father of Modern Microscopy because his work revolutionized the use of, and understanding of, the light microscope for materials analysis.

    Dr. McCrone trained thousands of students worldwide in the use of microscopy, wrote hundreds of articles and books, gave thousands of presentations and lectures on microscopy, and developed numerous accessories, techniques, and methodologies to push the state-of-the-art in microscopy.

  • Claude Picasso

    Claude Picasso responded to IFAR's letters requesting Claude to look at the testimony of the pilot and the photographs of the painting. Claude Picasso responded by saying that "As you know, this image was reproduced many times from the original in the Musee at Saint- Denis, as you have yourself discovered. I therefore confirm that in my opinion, the work you submitted must be a forgery . Incidentally , there exist to my knowledge scores of fakes of this image which I have dully cataloged. Yours is a fresh addition to my file."

    IFAR wrote back to Claude and asked him if there were any other depictions of the image submitted to him that had the date 10-3-47 - to which he responded..."Should you need a complete list of the file, I do not feel at liberty to divulge the exact figures involved as they seem to me to be in the domain of private correspondence and not a public access file.

    The gist of the information is enough. The fact is that the original is on display at the Museum of Saint Denis and what you have been examining is a fake period."

  • Pierre Daix> 
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    IFAR confronts Pierre Daix

    IFAR confronted Pierre Daix about the discrepancies in his testimony to the pilot compared to his account of the events published in his book.

    Pierre Daix admits that he was not actually present when the drawing was made, but that when he was called back over by Picasso, he watched Picasso add the date and a few details, and then waited for the ink to dry before taking it to the magazine for publishing.

  • IFAR's Investigation of the Don Quixote> 
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    IFAR's complete investigation

    IFAR did a complete investigation on the painting and had the scientific studies sent to their own experts for confirmation, to which the scientific examination was determined to have been done properly. IFAR also had the painting examined my John Richardson, as well as contacting Daix and Claude Picasso. These art experts would not comment on the scientific proof, but only concluded that the painting had to be a forgery.

  • IFAR's publication in March 1994

    In March of 1994, IFAR featured their investigation of the painting and questioned the validity of the art experts claim that the painting was a forgery given the scientific testings that confirmed its authenticity. IFAR's final verdict was that they did not know how it was a forgery - but that at this time, it was a story that would have to be left unexplained.

  • A Physicist Remembers - Richard J. Weiss

    In 2007, Richard J. Weiss took a look at the information about the oil painting, and performed his own investigation of the Picasso painting. After reviewing all of the information complied by the pilot and the pilot's son, he thoroughly examined all of the documents and testimony before performing his own investigation as to the validity of the painting's authenticity. In his opinion, the painting was authentic, and he wrote the details of his investigation which was published in 2007 in - "A Physicist Remembers."

  • Pilot's son reaching out

    After 36 years of making every effort to obtain authentication for the original "Don Quixote" oil painting by Picasso given to his father, the son is hoping that by making his father's story public, that he can reach people who can help him prove the authenticity of the painting, and to ultimately redeem the integrity and honor that his father rightly deserves.

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