The Rescue Artist
A True Story of Art, Theives and the Hunt for a Mi
by John Dalton
Review by: Craig R. Stafford
When I was younger, I would play the board game Masterpiece, where you try to
purchase famous works of art. It was an excellent introduction to seeing masterworks
and learning the names of the artists. After a while, all games grow old, and
we created a variant of the game. Blending Masterpiece with Monopoly, we started
with hotels and houses on each square, with a "masterpiece" assigned
to each house. If you landed on that square, you essentially "catburgled"
that house and took the artwork instead of paying rent. We would move from house
to house stealing famous pieces of art, eventually, winding up in jail, where
you other criminals would help you escape to the awaiting Monopoly boat piece
and sail away with your winnings. First one to sail away with the most artwork
won the game. Bingo!
Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by the book The Rescue Artist, where I
got to enter the world of masterpiece thievery and police sleuthing-in this
instance, the heist of Munch's most famous painting The Scream, stolen in
Norway in the mid-nineties. (Another version of the painting has since been stolen.)
I learned how these catburglars entered real-life "Monopoly Museums"
and made off with our beloved and their not-so-treasured works of art, and the
hunt for their return...which sometimes borders on the gray areas as well.
What tools did they use for such derring-dos? Laser glass cutters? Invisibility
shields? Nope. Just a ladder, a hammer, and a getaway car.
Most surprising, as always, was how dull the police work was. (CSI this wasn't.)
Indifference and limited resourses, coupled with a bit of social snobbery to boot
in regards to the victim's status, and the hunt for the return of the precious
paintings seemed haphazard.
Enjoyable, if not riveting, reading. Oh...and should Edward Hopper's painting
at the Cincinnati Art Museum disappear, with only a red Monopoly hotel sitting
on the floor beside a DVD copy of John Woo's Once a Thief...well, you don't
know me... Capice?