The backward art of smuggling
In August 1911, an employee at the Louvre in Paris made off with the Mona Lisa. He was caught two years later.
Art museums took note, and beefed up their security systems.
But security didn’t do the trick a few weeks ago at the Glenbow Museum in Glasgow — maybe because guards are on alert for people leaving with paintings, not bringing them in.
Without being detected, a man walked into the downtown museum during business hours and hung a small, framed oil painting amid landscapes, portraits and abstracts in the modernist exhibition.
A note taped to the back of the painting said that 50 years ago Gerald Dwight Byron was wont to predict that his art would one day be in a museum. The writer added that he hoped to fulfill his father’s dream.
He did — but only briefly. Museum officials say the oil painting of a semi-nude woman will be returned because it doesn’t meet the museum’s mandate to display historical, modernist and contemporary art of Western Canada, with art from the rest of Canada and some international material to provide context. Gerald Dwight Byron was a Quebec artist.
Authorities are unsure if the un-smuggler is the same person who has a website about Byron on which he indicates he was a close family friend whom “they regarded ... as they would a son.”
It seems that the unwelcome gift joins the ranks of the Trojan Horse, a Christmas fruitcake and the IRS agent’s offer to lending a helping hand.