By Percy Flarge
Noah Charney (see image at http://www.artnose.org/), the self-styled pioneering world expert on art crime, has been stolen in broad daylight while delivering a public lecture to a rapt audience of three somewhere in Massachusetts. Specialist art detectives say there is little chance of the silver-tongued criminologist ever being recovered as he was the only person alive with the depth of knowledge required to solve the crime.
“He was da man,” said art detective Vernon Velocorapter, tears welling in his eyes as he stood on the steps of Scotland Yard clutching a copy of Mr Charney’s latest novel The Talented Mr Rapley. “Nobody knew as much about him as him. This is the saddest day in the long and fabled history of art crime. It’s right up there with the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist.”
Mr Charney, a lecturer, writer, novelist, academic, linguist, public speaker, film-producer, TV anchor-man, masseur, mountaineer, underwater show-jumping champion, lingerie model, neurosurgeon, tap-dancer, movie-star, astronaut, rock musician, witch-doctor, faith-healer, and modest confidant of presidents, was also widely regarded by himself as the foremost expert on paintings and the people who steal them.
Mr Charney holds post-graduate degrees in stolen art from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, Nuremberg, Amsterdam, Tbilisi, Tierra del Fuego, Scunthorpe, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA, Ikea, and the MacDonald’s Hamburger Institute.
Last year he unveiled the results of his many years working undercover in the dark underworld of organised crime. In a scholarly thesis published by the world-famous Charney Institute, based in a mountain bunker somewhere in the Virgin Islands, he astounded art crime experts by revealing the following little-known facts about art theft:
• Most famous paintings are stolen by squirrels
• Dr No is alive and well and living in a bungalow in Idaho
• The market for stolen art is second only to the trade in kangaroo burgers
• All art thieves are Belgian
• Stolen paintings by Caravaggio are worth exactly $99 each on the black market, or buy one, get one free
Professor Charney’s best-selling blockbuster novel — The Famous Painting What Got Stolen — is regarded as a masterpiece of the English language and was named by the New York Times as one of the top two books published that year, the other being How to Make Paper Birds Out of Old Cereal Packets by Lavinia Barcode.
“Stunning”, “Head-spinning”, “Long”, “Paperback”, were typical of the gushing plaudits Mr Charney’s book received on publication. Here is a typical extract from the Pulitzer Prize winning text:
“It was night, a dark and inky night, black as night, cropusculant, with no light nowhere to be seen, anywhere. There were stars in the inky black sky as Ermenegildo Faggionato stole quietly into the shadowy darkened Baroque church of Santa Maria Maggiore in the sleepy little hill-top Tuscan village of Cristobal della Santiago a few miles from Pisa, famed for its precariously leaning tower on that dark and inky black starless night in December 1790. There it hanged, up on the wall, the lovely Madonna and her Christ Child by Philippa Lippy staring down in to the inky black cloak of darkness of the smoky deserted church that had no people in it because it was the middle of the night, at least three o’clock in the morning and still very dark with no stars and all the people in the sleepy little town of Cristobal were all sound asleep in their beds, snoringly unaware that their lovely Renaissance masterpiece, the Madonna of the Toothpick, worth countless millions on the open market, at least £100 million or thereabouts, was about to be stolen from under their noses right up there off the great stone walls of their picaresque little church by a man with blue eyes and an aquiline nose whose fearless heart was bleating like raindrops thrumming down on the coagulated wavy tin roof of the little Gothic church as the snow fell all around on that dark sweltering summer night in 1783. The blade glinted… [Mercy! Enough already! – Ed.]”
The FBI has listed the theft of Mr Charney on its Top Ten Stolen Works of Art website alongside a 1989 blue Chrysler sedan stolen last year from a garage in West Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the Art Loss Register has turned down requests from Mr Charney’s family to help recover the illustrious criminologist. “It’s not worth it,” said Darth Vader, Chairman of the ALR. “We’re only in it for the money.”