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S12E09 – Deadly Bidding

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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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S10E13 – Portrait of Death

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It’s a cold and dreary day in New York, probably and Jess has just popped into an art gallery to do a spot of shopping when she bumps into former Cabot Cove resident and current lottery winner Kim Mitchell aka Loretta Swit.

The *other* Queen of Cabot Cove

Kim immediately invites Jessica to lunch with herself and her stepbrother Mark but JB has to pop by the copy place first, her printer is on the fritz.

Over lunch, JB chats to Kim, Mark, and Mark’s gold-digging girlfriend Teddy Grace (who the hell calls their child Teddy?). Mark has been living off Kim’s money for a while but wants to try and go to college, but Teddy is in it for the cash dollar. When Mark tells Kim he’s thinking of getting his own place, Teddy chimes in with how they found a delightful little place that only wanted $50K up front. Mark gives her a look and says he was planning to rent.

It’s fruit salad, it’s fine.

Kim reveals that she’s found it difficult to trust anyone of the romantic male variety since she got cashed up, but that she’s met a delightful stockbroker named Bert Lown who refuses to take her on as a client. She’s very much in love.

Doomed. #Cynic

Kim goes home to get back to work on her newest sculpture which Bert calls a triumph. He’s had no luck finding Mark a job but he’ll keep looking. Meanwhile, Kim is also heavily involved in a charity art auction to benefit a school and has roped Jess into donating. Jess calls the gallery to let the owner, Philip Jovet know what she will be donating but he doesn’t seem terribly excited.

JB has no time for ingratitude.

Back at Kim’s fancy digs, Kim, Mark, Teddy and Bert are all toasting to the success of the auction with the school principal, Dr Swope. Philip Jovet pops around with a painting for Kim (a gift, after she accused him of ripping her off on another deal), and suggests they speak the following week about Kim exhibiting at his gallery. Mark thinks Philip is a scam artist and Bert has his own reservations. Teddy is just gobbling canapes like it’s a wedding.

Except I will be installed near the entrance so I can swoop on the canapes as they arrive.

The next day JB drops the painting off at the gallery to a frankly tepid response from Philip. Another art collector, Sondra Arthur, donates a painting she bought from Philip 5 years earlier and jokes to JB that this way she can call it a tax write-off.

Kim’s…I don’t know, maid? Frances brings a sculpture to donate to the auction. Side note, she looks so much like Catherine O’Hara that I no longer know what is real.

Wait, is it even Catherine O’Hara I’m thinking of?

That night, the auction to benefit the kids of the Willow Gardens School gets underway with a presentation from Doctor Swoop and a thank you to Kim Mitchell for her already generous donation. JB’s lobster still life is up first, and despite Philip’s snobbery sells for $1000.

And in my case, everything means canape acquisition

Dr Swoop busts a move on Sondra while the next piece, Kim Mitchell’s sculpture, is snapped up by Bert for $500. Confusion reigns when the next piece is not the painting Sondra Arthur donated. Philip says they’ll sort it out later and smoothly moves on to the next piece, which Teddy drunkenly bids $2500 on, saying Kim can pay for it. Philip spots her in the crowd and quickly declares the painting sold.

Champagne in one hand, canape in the other…the only difference is she’s at an auction and I’m on eBay randomly buying shoe racks (this is a true story)

After the auction concludes, Mark tries to get Teddy to leave but Philip spots him and insists on payment. Mark insists Philip get his hands off Mark, and to stay away from his sister.

A scuffle ensues.

But I have no interest in other peoples money. I barely have an interest in my own, which is partially the problem.

Mark is escorted out by security, followed by Teddy (but not before she loads up on more canapes. Teddy’s got canape game and I respect it). Bert, Jess and Dr Swoop reassure Kim, and Bert says he’ll pay for Teddy’s gaffe.

After the gallery closes, Philip tells Dr Swoop that they raised $220K. Dr Swoop calculates the gallery commission to be 10% but Philip informs him it’s now 50% – he’s made some phone calls, but he hasn’t made one to the police. Yet.

Back at House Mitchell, Teddy is set to watch the basketball but Mark decides to go out and get the late papers to get a jump on the job applications. Teddy chucks a tantrum and tells Mark not to expect her there when he gets back.  Frances arrives home just as the pair of them storm out. Meanwhile. Philip reassures Sondra over the phone about the loss of her painting and says the police will be in touch. He’s about to call it a night when he gets another call, and while he’s expecting it to be someone called Reynolds, this time it’s JB. She left a manuscript in his cloakroom.

Philip tells her they found it and just asking when JB can come and pick it up when someone comes up behind him and stabs him to death with Kim Mitchell’s sculpture. Something something deadly art….nope, I’ve got nothing.

The next day, JB is summoned to the gallery by Artie Gelber who declares JB to be his leading ear-witness.

Nice one Stan.

Artie is convinced the murder was a robbery gone wrong, but Jess doesn’t think so – there’s plenty of expensive portable art kicking around and none of that was taken. Lieutenant Henderson pops up to tell them that there were no signs of forced entry, but that there was a painting taken earlier in the day. Artie can make head nor tail of it, and to make matters worse he was pickpocketed coming in. To make them even worse, Henderson thinks they won the lottery but of course the ticket is in Artie’s wallet.

Across town, Dr Swoop continues his moves on Sondra Arthur, while Kim Mitchell struggles to make sense of it all. Artie arrives to ask Jess why she never told him about Mark tussling with Philip. She apologises but didn’t think it was relevant. Bert tells Artie there must have been a long list of people wanting to whack Philip, he had the reputation of a pickpocket.

Poor Artie

Mark has an excuse for why his fingerprints are on the murder weapon but no alibi for the time of the murder. When he’s caught out in a lie about having dinner with Teddy, he tells them he went to see Philip to get Bert’s cheque back but that Philip wasn’t having it. Mark got angry and left. Artie asks him if he killed Philip and Mark just walks away.

Down at the precinct Teddy apologises for fouling up Mark’s alibi but gets annoyed when Kim wants to know where she was at the time of the murder. “Did you just fall out of a tree?” Squawks Teddy.

My favourite type

JB notices Bert’s name in a copy of the Wall Street Journal that Teddy had. Kim figures Bert was giving her stock tips, which he later confirms. Over at the precinct, Artie is copping a bollocking from his wife who was just dragged by store security at Bloomingdales for using a credit card Artie thought was in his wallet and cancelled.

Over at Kim’s JB is about to say goodbye when Artie and Mark turn up. The good news is Mark’s off the hook, they found witnesses to him leaving the gallery. The bad news is that they’ve just discovered Philip spent a holiday in Bar Harbour with someone with the initials KM.

Busted.

Bert frowns and says it changes nothing, they were together all evening eating dinner at Grand Central Station. Kim admits to going to the gallery to try and sort things out but the gallery was locked. Artie shrugs and says he knows she was given a key by Philip after their holiday.

Back down at the precinct, Henderson wants an update on his lottery ticket but JB wants an update on the missing painting. Artie has nothing on both. JB wonders if the Reynolds that was noted on Philips planner and mentioned on the phone wasn’t an artist agent but a law agent. Artie thinks it’s worth investigating and calls the FBI who confirm Reynolds is in their fugitive division (side note, there’s only one Reynolds in the FBI?)

Unfortunately, he doesn’t know why Philip called him, he just received a message that Philip wanted to talk.  Artis is now officially more confused than ever. JB still thinks there’s something up with the missing painting and goes to see Sondra who tells her she bought it on Philip’s recommendation for $50K but that it was only worth five grand now. She would get her money back through insurance, so she’s not upset to lose the painting but she is upset not to have contributed to the auction so she’s mailing a cheque to the school. She shows JB the newsletter they gave out at the auction and JB realises Dr Swoop might not be all he says he is. A quick call to Willow Gardens School confirms it – Dr Swoop is a goddamn liar.

Jess wanders over to the offices of Bert Lown and Associates and is surprised to see the name being taken off the door. The super tells her the offices are just short-term rentals, and the office is so small the associates must have been working on margins. Get it? Because stockbrokers?

One does not simply Horatio Kane.

JB calls Artie and fills him in and he says he’s on it – but first, he just needs to go deal with the pickpocket who just waltzed into the lottery office to claim his millions. He arrives at the hotel Lown and the fake Doctor are staying at just as they are walking out the door with their money. But JB doesn’t think they killed Philip, and a stray comment from Artie jogs her memory…

I don’t know what I mean anymore. I need coffee.

Frances, it turns out, is the subject of the missing painting, and is also a convicted felon on the run for murder, and bumped off Philip because he recognised her.

And in the end, Kim’s got a one-woman show in San Francisco to put together, Mark has dumped Teddy for a college degree, and – after discovering Artie’s wallet down the back of his chair –  Artie and Henderson are not millionaires after all.

All is right with the world again.

Later gang!