In 1953 Rauschenberg asked Willem de Kooning for a drawing to erase. For reasons he never made public, de Kooning supplied one. Rauschenberg remembered him saying that "he wasn't going to make it easy for me—and he didn't! I spent four weeks erasing that drawing." Though it used up forty erasers, this ceremony of rejection was not effective. Rauschenberg's greatest strength remained his version of the older artist's brushwork. Despite himself, he was the most brilliant of de Kooning's heirs. Few noticed the relationship then. On the downtown scene, Rauschenberg had the reputation of a joker. He was "just fooling around," said de Kooning. "Not really serious."