Not long ago we made a brief note of the mysterious case of the missing Corot painting, “Portrait of a Girl.” At the time it looked like a comedy of errors, in which our juice-addled protagonist, James Carl Haggerty, simply misplaced a painting allegedly worth just over a million bucks. The nature of the case has changed a great deal. Now lawsuits have been filed, one of the characters in this drama is in jail on unrelated charges, an FBI investigator is involved–it’s a mess, as convoluted as an Agatha Christie novel. Especially after the newest development, reported today by the Times–the painting, missing since Haggerty claimed he lost it, has been found:
Then, on Sunday, the artwork suddenly materialized – under the arm of a Fifth Avenue doorman, who took it to a police station house on the Upper East Side.
The doorman, Franklin Puentes, told the authorities that he had had the 19th-century portrait, which officials say was appraised recently at between $500,000 and $700,000, since the hours after it disappeared – tucked inside his locker, in the basement of the building where he works.
Puentes says he found the artwork in the bushes outside his workplace, 995 5th Avenue. Kristyn Trudgeon, owner of the painting, told the NYT that she’s glad it’s been found. She also said she was “glad it’s not in the Dumpster.” Thomas Doyle, the convicted con man who once claimed ownership of the painting, is still in federal lockup. Puentes’s claims about finding the piece seem to back up the original story told by James Carl Haggerty, but Trudgeon told the Times she doesn’t feel Haggerty is off the hook yet: “He left the painting on the side of the road? Haggerty’s been lying through his teeth.”