Whodunnit fiction – Art gallery (issue 26)

Art attack

Mesmerised by the thick swirls of colour, Hal Spears studied the painting in front of him.

The exhibition was being held at a small art gallery and he was there to meet his old friend Leona Vinci, curator of the gallery. Unfortunately, this was a business call. Someone had stolen a pricey artwork from the exhibition, and the painter was absolutely livid.

Hal heard the click-clack of Leona’s heels long before she walked briskly around the corner.

“I wish I could say it’s good to see you, Hal, but these are horrible circumstances,” she said as she embraced him – air kissing each cheek.

“How can I help?” he replied.

“Please just talk to my cleaner, receptionist and the artist because I reckon one of them did it,” Leona lamented. “They’re all out the back. The thief was certainly clever… too clever to just be any old schmuck from the street. CCTV didn’t capture them at all.”

Hal nodded his head. “I’ll have your culprit in a few minutes.”

The gallery was small, only a few rooms in total. There was just enough space for one exhibition at a time.

Moving into the next room, Hal came upon a cleaner delicately dusting around a painting.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Hal started, taking out a notepad. “I’m here to investigate the recent theft. Can you tell me your name and what were you doing at the time the painting was stolen?”

“I’m Peter Picasso,” the man said, placing his duster in his cleaning bucket. “I was the first person to notice the missing artwork. I suppose that makes Leona think maybe I lied and stole it myself.”

He shrugged and looked sadly towards the ground. “I don’t start work until the gallery closes,” he explained. “When I came in, right on 5pm, the painting was gone.”

Peter went back to dusting as Hal walked away, heading towards the courtyard at the back of the building.

There sat two women, one in black pants and a white collared shirt, the other draped in an intricate, flowing kaftan, her clothes as bright as her thick, auburn hair.

“Excuse me ladies,” Hal started. “I’m private investigator Hal Spears. Are you able to tell me what you were doing during the time of the theft here the other day?”

“Hmmph,” huffed the brightly dressed woman. “It’s my painting! Why on earth would I steal it?”

“You’re Frida Marlow?” Hal asked. “Well I can think of any number of reasons. Maybe you wanted to sue the gallery since you haven’t sold any paintings.”

“I’ll have you know that there are at least 15 buyers very interested in the 20 paintings that make up this collection,” Frida replied. “That’s what they said anyway…”

“Right,” said Hal. “So, where were you then?”

Frida heaved a sigh and glared at Hal. “I was in the car park, if you insist on knowing. If only I had been a few minutes earlier I would’ve caught them myself. Now take me off your suspect list.”

“And you?” Hal asked the other woman.

“I’m Sandra Botticelli and I’m the receptionist,” she explained. “I was on my break, admiring a statue in the back showroom. When I returned to work, the painting in the front room was gone.”

Hal thanked the women and headed back inside, ready to tell Leona who her thief was.


Who stole the painting?

  1. A) Peter Picasso
  2. B) Frieda Marlowe
  3. C) Sandra Botticelli