Thursday, 23 June 2016

Writing - A modern spy buys art

I have read stories about theft in the art world and have even written a story with an element of art theft but this true tale is not about theft. It is about art works, it is about an undercover agent and dealings abroad.

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Joseph Wright (1734 - 1797)

Joseph Wright of Derby, he was the first major English painter to be based outside London and sometimes referred to as an English Caravaggio
He was the first artist to depict industry and scientific experiments of the age.

However, it wasn't his early work that became the focus of attention of  Derby Museum Trust, but two of his later works. 
Derby Museum Trust surprised everyone when it unveiled the paintings of Sir Richard Arkwright's mills and Willersley Castle on Monday night.
The museum did not tell anyone it was interested in the auction at Christie's in New York and employed a secret agent who was under instruction to only bid if somebody else did.
Meanwhile, gallery staff back in Derby nervously watched the sale online.
Jonathan Wallis from Derby Museum said: "We were sat there with a beer not sure whether to open it and celebrate or open it and commiserate.
"It was quite nail biting. We were watching and the auctioneer said 'is that the final bid? It's with you madam on the telephone' and we knew our guy was in the room.
"It went right down to the wire. He just chipped in at the end and the auctioneer said 'new bidder in the room. Sold to you sir'."

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Sir Richard Arkwright's Mills

Mr Wallis said if it was known the museum was interested in the pictures, art dealers would have tried to buy the paintings and sell them on to the gallery with an added premium.
After consulting with experts in London, the gallery hatched its plot and secured them for less than the guide price.

Image result for pink panther

This story has everything a tense thriller requires. There is a target, there is an undercover hero, there are wicked adversaries and a happy ending. If you are into this genre it is a great opportunity smacking of The Pink Panther, James Bond or even Patrick Steele. Add a bucket load of Le Carre of tension and you could have a prize winner which I'm sure the Derby Museum Trust would love to see on the shelves of book shops.

Inspiration can come from anywhere and as a writer goes about their daily business it is important to keep the senses awake and probe the surroundings for ideas.

God Bless