The Best Offer: the movie about art and emotions, its ending, explained

The Best Offer

Released in 2013, The Best Offer follows the life of an auctioneer, Virgil Oldman, and how love, emotions, art and forgery are prevalent in every aspect of life. Let us see what the ending is about.

Spoilers ahead!

The world of luxury art

The movie starts with an introduction on Virgil, they way he lives and works. He’s a wealthy reputed auctioneer and managing director at an auction house but also eccentric and standoffish, particular in things.

At his auctions, he works behind the scenes with his friend Billy. He’s an artist himself but Virgil doesn’t encourage or appreciate his art. Billy buys portraits of women for Oldman, sometimes originals which are intentionally assessed as forgeries by Oldman himself. Virgil has a hidden room in his hotel like house where the walls are full of antique valuable paintings of women.

An anonymous evaluation request

One day, Virgil receives a villa evaluation request from a women named Claire Ibbetson, whose parents have died and is alone. He agrees but is enraged when she fails to show up. After excuses, the same is repeated for the next 2-3 times until she reveals that she has agoraphobia and keeps herself locked up in a room in the villa.

Virgil relates to her, suffering from OCD himself, and soon they develop a peculiar bond. At the villa, he finds strange pieces of mechanics which he takes to his friend Robert. Robert is a young artisan who repairs clocks and other machinery. They soon find out that the piece is a part of an antique automaton.

Growing emotions and feelings

With regular visits, Virgil and Claire get to know each other better- through a wall. One day, Virgil hides behind a statue after indicating that he’s left just to see Claire come out. What’s weird is that Claire moves purposefully across the floor without hesitation and talks to a ‘Director’.

Slowly, Virgil helps her overcome her fears with little steps. Upon suggestions by Robert, he brings her fancy clothes, dinners etc. and gets close to her. One night, Virgil is attacked outside the villa and Clair rushes out to take him to hospital.

This is a turning point where Claire has taken a huge step out of her phobia. She goes out for dinner with Virgil, Robert and his girlfriend. Moves in with Virgil and stays with him. He even shows her his secret room full of those paintings.

The last auction and betrayal

Virgil has to go to London for his last auction. Before he leaves, Claire tells him that no matter what happens to them, she really does love him. Virgil finishes up his auction splendidly. Billy congratulates him and tells him that he’s sent him one of his original paintings. He comes home and calls for Claire but she’s nowhere to be seen.

He sees a portrait of a dancer which he saw at the villa (Claire’s mother, from what he’s told) and takes it to the secret room. Once inside, he’s shocked to see all of his paintings missing. He drops the painting and in the corner of room sees the complete automaton he was getting fixed by Robert. It’s saying something like- there’s something real in every forgery.

He rushes back to the portrait of the dancer and sees behind it to be signed by Billy.

Planning, hurt and heartbreak

Virgil is shocked by all this and he is admitted to a mental rehab to recover. He is unable to comprehend that a complex fraud was committed against him by someone he loved and his friends. He can’t go to the police since he didn’t acquire the paintings with honest means.

He’s also made aware that in the café opposite to the villa lives the real owner- Claire- who’s a smart but disabled woman. She’s rented the villa to actors and has seen the fake Claire going out multiple times. In the end, Virgil goes to Prague to sit in a restaurant which Claire had mentioned. It’s full of clocks and exposed clockwork.

It’s not sure who’s planning it actually was but maybe Billy’s who might’ve been disgruntled by Virgil’s lack of appreciation for his art. Knowing he’s lonely, he takes help of a women to deceive him. Just like artworks, it’s said that we never know if human emotions are true or fake.

Talking to Girl, actress Sylvia Hoeks who plays Claire says, “This film to me was a surprise, after a surprise. When you think something is going to happen in a way, there’s an unexpected twist and turn.”