Since my last post I have been asked how I got into doing investigations both as a side profession and as a hobby. I usually tell people it involves a painting by Cubist Jean Metzinger, a Fundamentalist Christian with a penchant for prostitutes, The Teamsters, Russian thugs and crooner Johnny Mathis.
Then I say, “It’s a long story and the short version is more interesting that the long version”.
Which is true.
The short version allows you to create a whole world of intrigue. You can almost see Peter Lorre lurking somewhere in a fedora smiling or scheming or perhaps lots of fist-fights and maybe an explosion or two. Certainly art being stolen would involve someone in a black turtleneck sliding across a floor on K-Y Jelly following their grappling hook.
But its not like that. Real art theft involves someone in a position of trust walking off with something. That something was Man with a Pipe (Portrait of an American Smoking) and that someone in a position of trust was an employee of Atelier 4 Art shipping and I was also an employee of Atelier 4 as a truck driver and I was blamed for the painting being stolen.
I have to apologize as I have been telling people for years the painting was recovered after a PI talked to me and I was deprived of both back pay for wrongful termination and a reward for finding a painting. It turns out the painting was never returned.
“Man With a Pipe was gifted to the Wriston Art Center Galleries, Lawrence University, by Howard Green. The painting, shown here in a black and white half-tone photographic reproduction, has been missing since 1998, having disappeared in transit while on loan, between 27 July and 2 August.
In 2000 I was told by someone who was still working with Atelier 4 that the painting was returned and the person in possession of the painting was given $5000.00 as a “finders fee” but I honestly cannot remember who told me or if it really was an employee of Atelier 4. It was almost 17 years since the theft and 15 since I remember the talk taking place so it would seem I am either mistaken or someone lied to me but I cannot say which is which only I know that it is not true now.
—more later. It is going to be long and parts will be boring.