Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The National Portrait Gallery responds

I received this response from The National Portrait Gallery today in reference to yesterday's posting of the theft of a painting from the NPG.

The National Portrait Gallery has been directly in touch with Ms. Bowland by phone and e-mail since we were made aware of this situation September 23, and the Gallery has contacted Ms. Marr concerning this issue.

Ms. Bowland’s painting was loaned to the museum for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. According to our loan agreement with Ms. Bowland her painting was to be picked up from and returned to the Klaudia Marr Gallery. At the end of the exhibition Ms. Marr requested that the painting be shipped to a different address. It was our understanding that the painting was being sold.

Apparently during the course of the competition, Ms. Bowland separated from the Klaudia Marr Gallery, but did not inform the National Portrait Gallery that her painting should be returned to her.

We continue to work with Ms. Bowland as well as, the Klaudia Marr Gallery to determine if the painting is in the possession of its rightful owner.
The main issue that I have with this problem is that according to Bowland at some point during the exhibition she had a discussion with NPG staff where she did inform them that her relationship with Ms. Marr had ended on a sour note. According to Bowland:
A few months later... [the NPG] called and told me that Klaudia Marr wished to have the painting as it was hanging in the NPG attributed to a man she said had bought the painting or was in the process of buying the painting. I told [the NPG] absolutely not.

I had never received one dime for the painting and had no expectations of receiving money for the piece. [The NPG] called again and said that [they] well understood and... we spoke for a bit about the horror of thieving dealers.
From a Monday morning quarterback perspective, it is clear that there was a lack of clear communications between all parties involved. Certainly at the NPG, where some people knew about the Marr problem and clearly at least one poor innocent soul (whoever shipped the work) didn't and was never told.

The one thing that remains very clear is that allegedly Marr lied to the NPG and if so, then has committed a serious crime. What I hope the NPG now does is work with Bowland to contact the FBI Art Theft division and help Bowland recover this painting and the many others that Marr has allegedly stolen from other artists. A phone call from the NPG to the FBI would go a long way to get this horror story on the right track and would certainly get more attention from the FBI than what they are apparently giving Bowland.

The right thing to do for the NPG is to report this theft to the FBI, and I hope someone there has the cojones and moral fortitude to do it and guide this nightmare to a happy ending.