Kate Ward ’23
My piece of art had been hanging in that museum for far too long. I was never entirely on board with the fact that the museum would take it and display it, and I wanted it back—it was a masterpiece, after all. I called and emailed and called again, but the museum refused to give back my painting. Even worse? The painting was of my dead dog. How ruthless that the museum wouldn’t return it to me! Did they have no souls? I came to a realization: I would need to steal it.
The idea came to me while I was watching some movie about a heist and they seemed to pull it off pretty well. I understood that someone else wrote the plan and that these people are just actors, but to be honest, I was desperate. In my desperation, I didn’t bother coming up with a bombproof plan; I decided I would walk into the museum, go to the exhibit that held my painting, and take it off the wall. I would, of course, take a bag with me so I could hold the painting, and thankfully it wasn’t much bigger than two sheets of paper.
Normally when artists have their art stolen, whether it’s online or out of a museum, it isn’t the artist himself doing the stealing, so I thought that if this went south, then I guess I’ll make history. I didn’t want to sit with my plan; I needed to carry it out as soon as possible, so I didn’t psych myself out and end up staying home. The day after I created this plan I got up, got dressed in the most boring outfit I could muster, and went about my morning routine. I walked down the steps of my apartment and started the trek to the museum. Thankfully, it wasn’t too far, so I didn’t have too much anxiety building up about it, but I was still nervous.
I got into the museum unscathed. The guards didn’t ask me about my empty bag or why I had it—as far as they knew, I was just another environmentally friendly New Yorker making his way through an art museum. I found it. The watchful eyes of the guards were elsewhere, either on their phones or focused somewhere else entirely. I approached my painting and let the top handle of my bag slide open, I lifted the glass and the canvas off the wall and slipped it into my bag. I tried not to, but I did scurry out of there. I hurried back down to the entrance.
A guard’s heavy hand clapped down on my shoulder. “I’m going to need to check your bag before you leave, sir.”
“You only check bags when people enter the museum—why are you coming after me?” I asked, pulling my bag away from him.
“We have reason to believe you may be stealing. Now, would you please step aside so we can get this figured out?” He swept his arm to the side, pulling me with him so other people could pass. The guard picked up his walkie talkie and spoke into it, calling for the museum director to come assist.
“Why are you stealing?”
“You never got back to me,” I snapped. “I wanted the painting back, so I took it. It’s mine.”
“Sir, I have never seen you before in my life,” the director replied. “That isn’t your artwork.”