Once upon a time in New York two years ago, Kenneth Rundle (played uncredited by Edd Byrnes aka Vince Fontaine from Grease) stole a Degas painting from a museum and took it round to struggling painter Angus Neville’s house.

I apologise in advance for this week’s post.

Angus assured Kenneth that he can disguise the Degas without damaging it, and showed him the painting that will go over the top of the Degas – an original work entitled Arrangement in Grey And Red.

Once upon a time in New York one month ago, Kenneth Rundle gets roughed up by a couple of toughs in a car park, looking for the Degas. Rundle has a heart attack and dies.

FACT! BASED! REPORTING! NOTHING BUT FACTS!

Once upon a time in New York right now (but more specifically 1995), JB has her Museum Board hat on and is on the phone to gallery owner Felix Wesker about an Arthur Conan Doyle manuscript he is selling. JB wants another look at the manuscript as Felix has screwed them before (unintentionally according to Felix) but Felix has already sent it to the auction house so if JB wants to look at it she’ll have to go there.

Do not mess with JB in murder mode or museum mode.

The museum’s assistant curator, Reggie Evers, is hoping that Felix has had a look at her boyfriend’s photography portfolio but he tells her he’ll get to it in a couple of days.

Felix gets off the phone and is confronted by Angus Neville, who wants to know why his painting is lit so badly and also can he borrow fifty thousand dollars so he can buy his painting back. Felix tells him absolutely not happening.

Angus isn’t the only one interested in buying Arrangement in Grey and Red. A dude by the name of Milt Solomon represents a private collector who doesn’t want it known he is interested in Angus’s painting so he is engaging the services of a representative to bid on their behalf.

This is Charlie’s last episode, you guys.

Charlie doesn’t know art or auctions, but he knows an inside scoop and he wants to know why Milt’s client is so interested. Milt tells him he wants to buy it, hang it on the wall and look at it, and all Charlie needs to do is not bid one cent over 100K.

Over at the auction house, auction chief Giles Havelock oversees final arrangements for the auction, while his assistant Diana Barrow tells Pete Dunning (Reggie’s boyfriend and assistant at the auction house) to tell the caterers that if she sees one more canape with cheese sauce or mayonnaise they are fired. Reggie tells Giles that JB is just finishing up her examination of the Conan Doyle manuscript and she has questions.

Diana goes to meet her boyfriend for a quick walk and guys wouldn’t you know it, it’s Milt Solomon. Somehow they know what’s really going on underneath Arrangement in Grey and Red and they want it for themselves. Diana’s furious that Milt only gave 100K to Charlie to bid, but she decides any other serious bidder will be someone who knows the true value of the painting and the only person she can think of is Angus, who can’t afford it.

Jess can’t find fault with the manuscript, but she just can’t shake the feeling that it’s a fake. Giles understands, he doesn’t trust anything either especially anything Felix sells. But it doesn’t sell for much, it’s had a couple of owners so it doesn’t seem worth faking. Meanwhile, Reggie and Pete have a fight about Reggie showing Pete’s photographs to Felix.

Speaking of which, Felix decides to take another look at Arrangement in Grey and Red but doesn’t explain why to Diana. He is interested in what she knows about the seller, Serena Rundle, and Diana tells him not much, just that she seems to be liquidating her late husband’s estate.

Back at home, Angus is having no luck trying to find someone to bankroll his efforts to buy back his painting when he gets a visit from the two goons who scared Kenneth Rundle to death. Angus thinks they are looking to buy one of his paintings but Mr Mezznou tells him if Angus bids on Arrangement in Grey and Red, or gets anyone to do so for him, Mezznou and his associate will kill everyone involved.

Auction night rolls around and while Charlie tries to make sense of such a circus, Felix tells Angus he’s worked out why Angus is so interested in buying his painting back. Angus persuades him to buy it and they’ll split the profits – Angus suggests 60/40 but Felix only agrees when he drops it to 90/10.

JB loiters in the corner throwing back bubbles and chatting to Peter. She confirms to Felix that despite her misgivings the museum will bid on the manuscript. Felix wanders off and Peter tells her he has to get some artworks out for the auction, but he’ll definitely look into the previous owners of the manuscript for her. He produces the code for the door on a piece of paper and gets inside while across the room Angus watches on. The newly widowed Mrs Rundle is cornered by Mezznou and his associate who are keen to find out more about where her late husband acquired the painting but Giles steps in and shoos them away. Reggie and Peter chat in his office, and Angus steals the code for the door out of Peter’s pocket.

The auction kicks off, while JB reviews the information Peter got for her in regards to the previous owners. The last three times the manuscript came up for auction it was through Felix Wesker, and the buyer had a T next to their name. This can only be valuable intel. Just as the manuscript comes up for auction, JB bumps into Charlie.

Guys if I could explain this I would.

JB has no time for Charlie just now though, she has a manuscript to bid on. That shady cat Felix decides to throw a spanner in the works by bidding to jack the price up (just like buying a house in Melbourne, probably) but taps out when Jessica reaches the limit the museum gave her.

Jess sits back to celebrate as the next item is brought up for auction – Arrangement in Grey and Red. Bidding kicks off at thirty grand and eventually turns into a bidding war between Charlie, Felix and Mezznou.  Charlie taps out at a hundred grand as instructed, but then accidentally bids four hundred grand on it waving at Jessica and wins it anyway.

Ah the classic accidental bid at auction scenario.

After the dust settles, Diana puts a panicked call into Milt who tells her he can’t get more money and she tells him she can’t either. Giles walks in so she hangs up the phone. Giles is happy with the evening’s result, though apparently a couple of Angus Neville fans aren’t too happy – they were on the phone bidding when Diana put them on hold and then they were disconnected. They were less mad when they heard how much the painting went for.

Over dinner, JB explains to Charlie just how screwed he is when a waiter appears to tell Charlie there’s a call on the house phone. Charlie’s surprised, as no one could know where he was but the waiter assures him the caller asked for Charlie by name. Charlie wanders off to see who’s on the phone – but it’s Mezznou and his pal, and they’re not happy that Charlie didn’t listen to the warning Angus received. Charlie tells them to back off, and they start laying into him. It’s only when Jessica appears and threatens to call the police that Mezznou and pal depart.

Jessica and Charlie adjourn to JB’s apartment for a nightcap but Charlie’s got a big day trying to find some cash and so takes off. Back at the auction house Angus breaks in and steals the painting. He takes it home, but no sooner does he get home there’s a knock on the door. Angus recognises whomever it is and opens it. He says “Look, if this is about my painting,” and is stabbed to death by the guy at the door.

The next day the police are all over it, led by Sergeant Unger who is stoked that JB was at the auction as it means one less person he needs to track down. (As we all know, JB is friends with every cop in New York. Clues are thin on the ground – there’s a piece of paper with what they think is a phone number on it (which JB recognizes as the security code for the auction house), a frame that has had the painting cut out of it, and the news that there was a theft from the auction house the previous night – Arrangement in Red and Grey has gone AWOL. Jessica mentions that that is the painting Charlie bought, and Unger is surprised to learn JB is acquainted with such a loser as Charlie Garrett.

Down at the auction house, Reggie tells Peter about the security code being found but he’s as puzzled as she is. He couldn’t track down any of the former owners of the Conan Doyle manuscript, but he did manage to find out that all the winners were phone bids. Upstairs, Giles is on the phone reassuring patrons about their security. He’s printed out a list of recent art thefts for JB as requested.

Milt and Diana’s relationship appears to not be surviving the disappointment of not acquiring Arrangement in Grey and Red, while Felix is sorry that Charlie’s painting has gone missing but he is too busy to care. Charlie tells him he thinks he knows where the painting is but Felix doesn’t care – he has a gallery full of Angus’s painting and now that he’s dead the value has quadrupled. Lieutenant Unger arrives and would like a word with Charlie immediately.

JB and Peter manage to discover that all the previous owners of the Doyle manuscript were dead when they bought them (awkward) and they stumble onto Kenneth Rundle’s obituary which happens to mention that he was a life-long bachelor, something that would be a surprise presumably to his widow.

Back down at the auction house, Unger has a word with Peter who has no idea how the security code ended up with Angus. It is very clear that Unger thinks that Peter is involved but simply tells Peter not to leave town.

Over lunch, JB explains to Charlie exactly what he’s gotten himself into – she has worked out what Arrangement in Red and Grey really was, and that Kenneth’s wife is a lie. Charlie is more interested in what the painting is worth.

I mean I could explain this, but honestly, some things are better left unexplained tbh

Jessica thinks it’s time they went to the police but she wants to know for certain Charlie knew nothing of any of it – and just as she asks this Mezznou and his friend wander over to their table, as Felix told them that Charlie knows where the painting is and it would be terrible if they all ended up dead from not sharing that information. Taking matters into her own hands, Jess spills a bowl of soup and they make a dash for it – only to run into Rundle’s widow, who is actually an FBI agent with questions, and Sergeant Unger, who has questions of his own.

It turns out the FBI was onto Kenneth Rundle for a long time, and they suspected there was more to Arrangement in Red and Grey than met the eye, so they decided to keep the painting on offer to see who else knew. The agent has plenty of questions for Charlie but Unger gets in first so she sashays away. Unfortunately for Unger Charlie’s alibi checks out – the waitress at the diner Charlie loitered at that night said it was like time stood still, six cups of coffee for a twenty cent tip.

I don’t know what that means either, but Jess does and she sets a trap to prove it.

And of course…

Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a complete surprise.

Giles was late to the ‘Oh that’s a Degas’ party, but he got there, and was going to bail out the auction house with it. Also the Conan Doyle manuscript was totally fake, which they worked out from a passing news bulletin on the television. Nice work MSW writers.

And so we say good-bye to another regular. Peace out Charlie Garrett, the not-quite Harry Macgraw.

Onwards and upwards, Fletcherfans.

 

 

 

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