A Heartbreaking Mistake of Staggering Genius

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One Hard Worker: From the moment he arrived at work on October 17, 2001, Emmanuel Asare knew it was going to be a bad day. A janitor for the tony London art gallery Eyestorm, Asare reported for duty that morning only to find that his employers had trashed the place at the previous night's party. Surely his heart broke at the sight of half-empty coffee cups, cigarette butts, beer bottles, candy wrappers, and newspapers strewn from one end of the gallery to the other. But rather than turning in a letter of resignation, Asare bucked up and dutifully cleaned up the mess, chucking all the junk into the dumpster out back.

Hirst.jpgOne Harder Truth: Unfortunately, that "trash" turned out to be an impromptu installation by artist Damien Hirst, who'd assembled his masterpiece out of the party refuse. Worse, because of its fleeting and irreplaceable nature, the artwork was valued at more than $9,000. Fortunately for Asare, though, the guy who found deep, symbolic meaning in kegger leftovers also found meaning in those leftovers being thrown away. When told about the janitor's mistake (or negative review, if you will) Hirst was thrilled, claiming it said something "very key" about his work.

20-mistaikes.jpgThis summer, we'll be re-running parts of "The 20 Greatest Mistaikes in History," Maggie Koerth-Baker's cover story from March-April 2007. For other installments, click here.

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