Part 30: Update #6Let's All Play Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective - The Pilfered Paintings (Update #6)
Notebook (New clues will be spoilered.)
1. Holmes and Watson were visited by Sir Simpson. He spoke to the detectives about the theft of the two DeKuyper paintings from the National Gallery last night. An auction was held for these two paintings at Armitage's Gallery on July 1st 1890. Only six paintings by DeKuyper were known to have existed before then, one of those is currently in London as part of Lord Winslow Smedley's private collection. Sir Simpson managed to convince the respective owners of the existing DeKuyper paintings to bring them together for a single exhibition which was to be held in two days time, the paintings were due to be hung in the gallery tomorrow. Of the original six paintings, the four Louvre paintings are currently being held at The French Embassy, the Rijksmuseum painting is currently held in the gallery storeroom and Lord Smedley's is still in his private collection awaiting collection.
2. The detectives were greeted at Armitage's Gallery by Mr Armitage himself. In early June, Armitage received a visit from Hiram Davenport, a solicitor who we encountered in The Case Of The Mystified Murderess, who was speaking on behalf of his client who was in possession of two new DeKuyper paintings that he wished to auction. Armitage never met the client but he was able to check and verify the authenticity of the paintings, Davenport also had a certificate of authenticity signed by Pierre Donet who is a well known DeKuyper expert.
The auction itself had some very strict rules. The auction had to take place on July 1st, a public announcement was not to be made until June 23rd and the paintings were to be sold as a pair. Due to the short public notice, a lot of the big-name bidders failed to show. Brady Norris was the person who won the auction and the paintings sold for more money than Armitage was expecting. Despite the unusual request that they are sold together, there was energetic bidding between Norris, Sir Herbert Cofman and Dame Agnes Smedley.
3. Holmes and Watson spoke to Michael Balfe, the head security guard and one of the four security guards who were on duty during the day of the theft. He claimed that they arrived by 1600 to prepare for the galleries closure at 1700. By 1715, all of the galleries employees had left for the day with the exception of Mr Simpson and Mr Norris, whose custom is to remain in the gallery until it is secure. Michael personally let Mr Simpson out of the building through the main entrance at 1730. Mr Norris stayed on because he was expecting a delivery from Cummins & Goins which arrived around 1745. Michael and another guard called Charlie helped Mr Norris unload the wagon, which consisted of one large crate and two smaller crates. The origin of the larger crate remains a mystery, but the two smaller crates came from Jardine, Matheson & Co. shipping company.
After the deliverymen left, Charlie locked and barred the loading dock door. Mr Norris went into the storeroom to check his shipment, the contents of which remain a mystery, and Michael returned to the guardroom. Mr Norris informed Michael at 1830 that he had locked the storeroom and would be leaving for the evening, he was let him out through the main entrance. Michael secured the office wing and spent the evening looking after his rounds. He took the 2300 round and passed through the east wing of the gallery, at 2310 he had noted that all the paintings in gallery twelve were in their proper place. Charlie took a later round and followed the same path as Michael, but when he visited gallery twelve, the two DeKuyper paintings had been cut from their frames. The alarm was raised at 2335, Michael sent Charlie to check the loading entry and the office wing. He doesn't know how the thief got into the museum, the only keys to the outside doors are either kept in the guardroom or in the possession of the patrolling guards. Mr Simpson and Mr Norris are the only employees who have keys which are only for the inside doors.
Michael Balfe is in the directory but we aren't able to speak to anyone at his residence:
4. At the French Embassy, Pierre Matin expressed to Holmes about his disappointment at the loss of the paintings. He had concerns about the circumstances under how they were acquired by the national gallery, the short public notice and the inability to authenticate the paintings.
5. Lestrade was his usual helpful self with the detectives. Once again, he believes that he has the case solved and was so sure in himself he provided us with some new information. Lestrade believes that the theft was an inside job as the evidence suggests that the thief had a key and had exited the building through a window in one of the offices. Even though he is investigating the guards and staff he has no solid leads just yet.
6. The detectives visited a very delicate Langdale who was nursing seemed to be nursing a hangover. He had spent the previous evening at a party that was hosted by Dame Agnes Smedley. Pierre Donet was also in attendance seemed to be in a very talkative mood. It seems like Pierre Donet was a starving artist who has never managed to sell one of his own paintings in the past twenty years. His luck suddenly came about in 1872 when he found the first DeKuyper painting in a church attic in Brussels. Shortly after it was sold to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, he began a new and extravagant life and he is currently staying in a luxurious suite at the Langham Hotel.
7. Pierre Donet agreed to meet the detectives at the Langham Hotel. He claims to know nothing about the theft of the paintings as he arrived from Brussels yesterday afternoon. He does not know the identity of the person who put the paintings up for auction. He signed the certificate of authentication in Brussels in the presence of a lawyer who was representing the seller. Strangely enough, he has admitted that he didn't get to actually see the paintings until the day after when he visited the lawyer's hotel room. He has confirmed that they are genuine DeKuyper paintings.
8. Holmes paid a visit to see Brady Norris who was already prepared for the visit. The theft occurred while he was at Dame Agnes Smedley's party and he has no idea who stole the painting or how. He also can't explain why the DeKuyper paintings were specifically targetted as the gallery possesses far more valuable paintings than those.
9. Holmes and Watson visited Dame Agnes Smedley at her home who was very helpful with our enquiries. She received news of the theft during her party last night around 2300. Dame Agnes also provided us with the names of some of the more important guests who attended her party which included: Pierre Donet, Langdale Pike, Angelo Hypsilanti, Clifton Maddox, Lord Winslow Smedley, Sir Simpson and Brady Norris. She had noticed that Brady Norris was in a strange mood, he seemed very quiet compared to his usual out-going self. Two people left the party early, Hypsilanti and Maddox called a cab from the Central Carriage Stables and departed around 2200, the other guests stayed until around midnight.
10. We sent the Irregulars off to Cummins & Goins. They were paid by Brady Norris to pick up and deliver three crates from Well's Warehouse to the National Gallery.
11. The detectives investigated Well's Warehouse and found out that the place was rented by Matthew Cole, until yesterday that is. Matthew Cole is in the directory but visiting his residence leads to a dead end:
12. Watson made his way over to the Central Carriage Stables to make some enquiries. The cab that left Dame Smedley's party at 2200 took two people to Haxell's Restaurant. The cab that left at midnight took one person to Calridge's Hotel, once again, this leads to a dead-end:
13. Clifton Maddox wasn't at home when Watson enquired there, in fact, he hasn't been seen since yesterday.
14. Henry Ellis was able to confirm that the business involving the sale of the DeKuyper paintings was indeed suspicious. His European contacts were very upset when they found out that the auction was to take place at short notice. There's supposition that there was a behind the scenes agreement to exclude certain people.
15. Holmes and Watson investigated the Dover rooms and discovered that Matthew Cole had lived there for two months. The desk clerk said that Cole kept to himself, didn't seem to be employed and spent of his time drinking at the Red Bull Inn. The charred remains of Cole's possessions have been sent to H.R. Murray at the Criminology Lab.
16. Holmes visited The Raven & Rat Inn to talk to his old friend about the art gallery theft. Unfortunately, Porky doesn't know anything about it. He did hear that "some Greek bloke", Angelo Hypsilanti, was angry about missing out on attending a recent auction and has been speaking with Clifton Maddox. Porky has also heard a rumour that at the time of his own stretch in Pentonville Prison, Maddox was almost sent there too. Apparently, Hypsilanti will do anything to get ahold of a picture.
17. The owner of the Red Bull Inn confirmed that Matthew Cole had been a regular at the Inn for the past two months. He was last seen "the other day", and he "drank quite a few with a heavy set gentleman who walked with a link and used a cane." The handle of the cane was carved into a duck.
18. Apparently Hypsilanti came home last night in a celebratory mood, he brought with him some friends who he drank and danced with into the early hours of the morning.
19. H.R. Murray informed us that all of Cole's possessions were soaked with kerosene, the fire at the Dover Room's was definitely arson. There wasn't much left to analyse apart from a key without any numbers and a piece of canvas oil painting that was smeared with Prussian blue paint. The canvas was sent to London University and is currently being analysed by Mortimer Murray, who is a professor of Chemistry and an expert on paint pigments.
20. Sir Jasper Meek revealed to Dr. Watson that Cole did not die in the fire as there was no smoke in his lungs. He most likely died because of the injury to his head.
21. Watson arrived at Mortimer Murray's room and found him in a heated debate with Pierre Matin. The remains of the DeKuyper paintings found in Cole's room seem to be fake as Prussian Blue is a recently created pigment. The paint found on the canvas cannot be more than thirty years old so it can't possibly be a DeKuyper painting.
22. Watson's visit to the Jardine, Matheson & Co. shipping company revealed that one of the crates contained Ruben's artwork. They confirmed that the shipment was destined for the National Gallery and was delivered to Well's Warehouse, on the instructions of Brady Norris, five days ago.
Banks - Cox & Company - Cox & Co. is a well-respected financial institution located in Charing Cross. Watson keeps all of the notes on my cases in a dispatch box in their vault.
Brill's Baths - Located at the East End, Watson claims Brill's salt-water baths are an excellent antidote for neck cricks and shoulder pains.
Carlton, The - The Carlton is a posh drinking establishment located not far from the Diogenes Club.
Cofman, Sir Herbert - Son of Robert Cofman, a railway magnate who also served in the Cabinet at the time of his death. Sir Herbert was knighted at the age of 28. He fell to financial ruin due to an unfortunate business investment in Bolivian railroads.
Cummins & Goins - A delivery service established by Mr. C.U. Cummins and Mr. Harry B. Goins, March of 1880.
Davenport, Hiram - Mr. Davenport is quite an overworked fellow. Specializes in setting up and administering estate. Never quite made the cut to barrister.
Hall, Edward (Old Bailey) - Baker Street Regular.
Haxell's Restaurant - Haxell's is an elegant dining room, known for their impressive art collection and delectable food. It is said that the Queen herself sends out for their frogs' legs each evening around midnight.
Hogg, Quentin (Police Gazette) - Baker Street Regular.
Lloyd's Of London - Headquartered at the Royal Exchange, Lloyd's is a group of ship owners, merchants, underwriters, and ship and insurance brokers.
London Library - Baker Street Regular
O'Brian, Disraeli (Office Of Records) - Baker Street Regular.
Smedley, Lord Winslow - Son of the Duke of Malvern. He is exceedingly devoted to his older sister, the spinster, Dame Agnes.
Time to vote!
In the next update, I will be visiting the final key location. After review, I can make it within two moves instead of three. You can choose up to, and including, three more locations for the detectives to visit. You're also free to send the Irregulars to one location.
It's too early to call for an end to the case.
Voting would usually end Monday 29th June at 2200 GMT. But as things currently stand, this will extend longer if necessary.