A few years ago I exhibited a portrait of my wife in a gallery in Dartford, Kent. I was showcasing the painting as a sample portrait in the hope of generating commissions. After a couple of weeks I got a call from the gallery. Thinking it might be a commission, I was greeted with the sobering news that they’d had a break in over night. The thief had smashed the door, left a half can of Tennent’s lager, stolen £300 from the safe and taken one painting . . . mine.
As a family portrait the painting was essentially worthless, beyond its sentimental value. I was philosophically resigned to the loss, but the press got in touch, wanting an emotional story from the distraught artist, so I laid it on as thickly as I could.
I’m not sure if the thief read the article but, a few weeks later, I got another call from the gallery. “Great news! Your painting’s been returned.” Someone, presumably not the thief, had got in touch to say he knew where the painting was located and he then returned it to the gallery, no questions asked.
Wherever it had been, the painting came back more or less unharmed.I never got a commission.