Great Art Heist

In case anyone might have noticed I have been a bit “preoccupied” the past few weeks….LSH/Marcus had (charitably) described me as “distracted”, but in reality “demented” would have been a more realistic term to use.
 
SaintAnthony hair-out-714605 stjude
 
It all began about a month ago when I was asked to clear out a house for a friend. Some of the contents were to be given to her friends and neighbours and other things were to be given to charity. I spent days doing this, sorting through books, wrapping up breakables, ferrying boxes to Oxfam shops, and keeping some things back as mementoes for her friends that I hadn’t been able to contact.
 
In the meantime a friend, let’s call her Anne, had asked me to bring some paintings to my framer. She didn’t want them reframed, as the frames were original, but the backs were “distressed”, as they say in the trade! So she wrapped them up in newspaper and I took them home. As I was still trying to get some work done for the Studio Open Days, writing to papers, getting cards and calendars printed, deliver work to the Christmas show at the Peppercanister Gallery, hanging the work in the studio, and a show at the Arts Club, it was about a week before the wonderful Leo, my long suffering framer, called with some framing . (Why are so many people connected to me “long suffering”?) When he was leaving I told him about Anne’s five paintings. I said he should just take one and see how he got on with the “restoration”, as Anne might be very fussy!!!
A week later, as I picked out some more work to be framed, I had what I can honestly describe as the most awful stomach churning thought….where were Anne’s four paintings?
I ran into the studio to where I usually leave things for framing…not there!
I went through every one of the drawers of my planchest…not there! 
Upstairs to the drawing studio, I tore through every single drawer and behind every print, every drawing and frame and every piece of bubble wrap….not there!
Then into the house….I went like a tornado through the house. By lunchtime the house was like a battle scene…furniture strewn all over the place, every drawer pulled out,  LSH had joined in the search at this stage, even going through the bins! Missy, Pip and even the destructive Squeak knew to keep out of my way during all this.
I phoned Leo; praying as I did; hoping that he had taken all five. But I was out of luck.
 
It was lunchtime when I had my second stomach churning thought…..could I have mixed up Anne’s paintings with the things for Oxfam? MOTHER OF GOD!!!! I COULDN’T HAVE…COULD I?
There was nothing for it, first I phoned and then I called out to Oxfam Dun Laoghaire. It couldn’t have been a worse day, Saturday. The shop was jammed. I spoke with the very sympathetic staff who recognised that I was losing my mind, even bringing me into the store room to see if I would recognise them. They said that if they thought the paintings were good, they would bring them to be valued, and keep them in there.
That night we went to the Friends of the National Collection Christmas Dinner. During the dinner I remembered I had asked Sheila (long suffering pal) to drop a bag of things into charity shop near her. So I had to phone her and let her into my dreadful secret. Throughout the dinner I kept thinking of possible places where I might have  put the paintings,  different scenarios where the paintings turn up at auction and I have to buy them back, stolen from the studio by the man who came to fix the door handle….my very active imagination was now in overdrive! Leading to the worst indigestion ever!
 
Monday came and I met LSP/Sheila at  Barnardos Charity Shop at 9am. Of course it wasn’t open that early, so we went for a coffee. It seemed hours before the shop opened. They too let me look in their store room and I spotted some of the things from the bag I gave Sheila on the shelves in the shop. Then they dropped the bombshell saying that they could have been sold already….we were devastated!
When I got home Marcus, with a rush of blood to the brain, had contacted our friend in France, Kathy who does regression therapy, in the hope that she would be able to suggest anything. She gave him the number of a friend of hers in Dublin to contact. I phoned her immediately and made an appointment to see her on Wednesday.
Monday afternoon I spent phoning all the major auction houses asking them if they had been offered the paintings for sale, and giving them my name and number to let me know if they did appear. I then called into Eileen, who has great faith in St Anthony when anything is lost and I told her the whole sorry tale. She advised me to promise him some money, but warned me that he was only to get the money when the paintings turned up.
I left her with a heavy heart and wondered if I should be praying to St Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases, instead.
The rest of Monday and all of Tuesday, I spent ripping the studio and house apart…AGAIN…all the while afraid I would meet Anne and HAVE to give her the DREADFUL NEWS!
As if to rub salt into the wound, Adams Auctioneers latest catalogue arrived in the post and there were a number of paintings similar to Anne’s in it…..valued at €1,500 to €2,000 EACH!
 
Wednesday night came at last, and LSH drove me to Clonsilla, to the hypnotherapist, as by now I was a complete lunatic. I spent two hours with her, she put me in a trance and I went over the series of events. I felt much calmer as I left her, and went over the studio and house with a fine tooth comb, but without any success.
In the meantime I had the two Open Studio weekends, about which I have told you, a family wedding, two exhibition openings, and put up the Christmas tree and all the decorations…it was all under the pall of the missing paintings.
Then last Thursday on my way through Rathmines, I suddenly remembered I called in with a box of books to that Oxfam. I nearly crashed the car trying to park, I jumped out and ran into the shop. Once again I recounted the pitiful tale, the manager of the shop said she would check the storeroom, and then she had a terrible thought, (a lot of them in this story), she had sent a load of things to Kilkenny and the paintings could be there. 
Last Tuesday, I decided I could not put it off any longer, I was going to have to tell Anne the DREADFUL NEWS. 
Before I pushed the nuclear button and called out to Anne, I decided to do a final phone around. I phoned Oxfam Rathmines and spoke to the manager again. By now she recognised my voice and said she had phoned Kilkenny, but they had sold everything they got from Dublin, and she cheerfully asked if my friend would kill me over the paintings, to which I simply replied “yes”.
 
I then consulted Eileen, who had now put the pressure on St Anthony, by refusing to give him even the smallest coins until he came up with the goods.
I then, stupidly, decided I would look online to see what the paintings in Adams Auction went for, and get a ball park figure for the cost of replacing them. As if I hadn’t enough stress, they didn’t go for the guide price, oh no, I don’t do things by half, they went for almost €3,000 each!!!!!
I had inherited a painting by the same artist and decided I would give this to Anne, so I would only have to stump up for three paintings.
I drove out to Anne, and as I arrived she was getting out of her car. As I got the paintings out of the boot her remaining one, and my inherited piece, she spotted them and said, “how did they turn out?” Well, I was left with no option, now I had to give her the DREADFUL NEWS. I immediately, and in a splurt, started to tell her the whole sorry tale, the house clearance, the charity shops, the notifying of the auction houses, the framer, Sheila, Eileen, Kathy, my Italian class, LSH, and even the hypnosis….I hardly drew breath. I then asked her to accept my painting as part replacement. Anne looked flabbergasted! She then uttered the words that will remain with me ’til the day I die….”But Marie you NEVER had all the paintings, you only took one!”
I thought I was dreaming and actually wouldn’t believe her until I saw them for myself. And yes, they were still wrapped in newspaper, and all lined up and ready to go to the framer, at her door, and not mine!