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Posted by : Robert Child Wednesday

Several weeks ago I started writing a new story, The Russian van Gogh, first in a new series featuring female Forensic Art Detective, Dr. Riley Spenser. She is both an Art History Professor at Harvard as well as a stolen art investigator handy with a gun. In this first book a secret Russian art warehouse is breeched by a terrorist branch of the Russia Mafia and several masterpieces that the Red Army looted from Berlin in 1945 are taken. Among the treasured secret pieces is a van Gogh thought destroyed in an allied bombing raid. It is worth over 300 million and Riley along with an agent from MI6 must chase down the painting before the Russian government can locate and destroy it and wipe away any evidence of their vast hidden collections of stolen artwork that rival the Louvre. I am very excited by this new international thriller series and this new character and I have included an excerpt from the book below. Early on in the story Riley is giving one of her many talks on stolen art and this scene provides clues to what will be coming later in the story.

Excerpt from The Russian van Gogh:

HARVARD U. KENNEDY SCH OF GOVT. AUD., CAMBRIDGE, MA

A tall, attractive blue eyed woman, 32, with long dark hair, classic features and ample curves moves confidently across a stage casting a shadow on a projector screen. She has a man intimidating educated air coupled with approachable all-American good looks. A study in contrast she is Harvard Art History Professor and Forensic Art Detective, Riley Spenser and she moves a red laser pointer to the screen.
On screen a painted seascape is illuminated. The words below the painting reveal it as a Rembrandt with the title, Storm on the Sea of Galilee. Above the painting is a dollar figure, $500 Million.
Spenser looks at the image a moment and turns to her audience of 300 people, “and finally the infinitely irreplaceable, Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt rounds out the 13 works of art stolen in the St. Patrick’s Day heist at the Gardener Museum in 1990. This combined with the stolen Vermeer make this burglary the largest single property theft in recorded history at $500 million and the items have yet to be recovered.”
Letting this sink in a moment she continues, “Art theft has gone on since the age of the Egyptians and mostly during times of war. The spoils of war become the scared national treasures of the victor. And no one questions it - even though most of the Italian art hanging in the Louvre was stolen by Napoleon in his Italian campaign of 1796.” Smiling she humorously adds, “In fact the terms his Modena Armistice were simple, ‘you give us your art, or we don’t stop shooting.” The audience chuckles and Riley, impassioned, concludes her talk. “Art endures ladies and gentlemen. It transcends boundaries and conquerors. It is the only object we will ever see during our lifetimes that can be said to be truly immortal. In each original piece the artist has left something of himself or herself. The same Mona Lisa you admire today is the exact one da Vinci labored over for more than five years in his studio. That is what personally connects us to him and only original works of art can accomplish that. No one person or country can possess art in perpetuity. In the end the artist intended that it belong to all of us. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.”
Professor Spenser exits to audience applause and is quickly speeding north in her Audi on Memorial Drive alongside the Charles.

*Stay tuned for future book excerpts and updates in this new series.

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