A friend of mine asked about Johnny Mathis.
Its cutting to the middle of the story, so you have to imagine that this is one of those films that starts in a non-linear way:
I was standing in my underwear with a gun in my mouth…No, that’s Breaking Bad. Like I said, it has been 17 years.
We did not find the painting in the truck and we had to get to LA. One of the deliveries in LA was to the house of Johnny Mathis.
Johnny Mathis lives in one of those houses that you must be very careful not to drown in his living room. He has a pool there.
This was not a concern in other houses I had been to.
Anyway, he had this door that was made of this rough iron that was sort of scalloped. It was as if, instead of a door, you had a very stylish cheese grater that you used to enter your house.
I cut my finger on the door/grater. I moved my hands so much with driving and lifting art that the infection never quite went away until I got back to New York.
My girlfriend* asked me “What happened to your finger?” and I said “Johnny Mathis”.
*My wife wants it known that this was 17 years ago and I am not allowed, or able to obtain, mistresses.
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.