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ROMANCE OF STOLEN PICTURES., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 74, 27 March 1909
ROMANCE OF STOLEN PICTURES.
LOST IN AUSTRIA, FOUND IN AMERICA.
Two oil paintings of great value, Arnold j Bocklin's "Fishing Satyrs" and a cattle p/cture by Troyon, stripped from their stretchers in the private gallery of Baron | Leopold yon Lleben, In Vienna, by a faithless bntier, were recovered recently from tbe t&tef M Pwsafc. V-S.A., and are , .now on their way back to their rightful I owner. Details of the recovery of. these important wprks ot art, stolen more than three | years ago, suggest the theft and the longdeferred "return of the famous Gainsborlough portrait ot the Duchess of Devonshire. The man who regained the painting is Wenzei panek. who Jp employed in a private detective agency in Vienna, These pictures were taken from Baron 'yon Lieben's gallery in August, 1903, while ithe nobleman aad his family were away at a summer resort. The butler took the I pictures from thpir stretchere without cutting them and fitted them Into a slit in his coat. He then walked out of the house, as he has since told, without attracting any attention, and took them to the borne of the young woman whom he intended to marry, and who lived in the town of Brunn, a tew miles from Vienna.
The police suspected everybody who | might have had access to the pictures, and eVen detained a relative of the family who had a way of spending money | freely at Monte Carlo, but found nothing against him.
They arrested "Krauser" and subjected him to the -Austrian equivalent of the third degree, but be so ve-enjently protested his innocence that they permitted him to go free. He remained in Austria for a year, well knowing that any sudden departure might | subject him to further investigation, and 'at last crossed to America with the two pictures. I He had planned to wait at least five I years before spiling then*, ,htecan.se he well knew it would be practically Imj possible to realise on works so weR known ' until the stir over tbe_ had been forgotten. He had a trunk made with a false : bottom, in which he secreted the two plcI tures, and there they reposed untjl a very short time RgP.
"Krauser," although he had at least 1 £2500 in art in bis trunk, had comparatively little ready money, and he sought employment In a mill In Passaic, where, for 1 slender wages, he worked against that time he could dispose of bis loot with ease. He had recently begun tentative negotiations With persons In Brooklyn, according to Danek, but bad been told he was still too precipitate, aud the painting needed more seclusion.
Baron yon Lieben, however, believed the pictures could'yet be found, and be put the case a few months ago Into the hands of the International Private Detective Institution pf Vienna, The head of the bureau, S. Gpldberger, at once detailed Danek, who bad had a varied experience in ferreting out crime In Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, The official offer for the return of tbe pictures was 2000 crowns, but the detective agency was informed that no reasonable sum would be witnheld if tbe pictures were recovered. .Danek, by a process of elimination, de- , elded that "Krauser" had the pictures. He (found that tbe butler after leaving the establishment of the Baron had .beep employed by several other wealthy families lof Vienna and left every place under cloud, for articles ot value were missing before he finally disappeared. Danek tracied the man to Brunn, where the girl to whom "Krauser" was devoted was found.
The agency then sent to Brunn a woman I detective, -who got into the confidence of 'the fiancee of "Krauser." Tbe woman detective Jet It be known that she, too, knew ii man in the United States in whom she ' wa s much -interested, and that he had gone there to establish himself and to make his fortune, so that he might return and marry her. ~
She returned to Vienna with a letter ot Introduction from the girl ln Brnnn to the man to whom tlje- woman, detective was supposed to be betrothed. This letter was directed to Passaic, N.J. The letter of Introduction was delivered into the hands of Danek late last October, and on November 4th, be departed, from Bremen with practically unlimited credit and Instructions to buy the pictures, If need be to the extent of 50,000 crowns, or as much as ln his Judgment the circumstances warranted.
He went to Newark as soon as he landed, and arranged with a family ln that city, to which he s)bo had a letter of introduction, to have the use of a room In their house at any time he might need it In an emergency, and then went on to Paesalc, which is only six or seven miles away. He presented his letter to "Krauser" and got a cordial welcome, even when Danek, who was Introduced under an assumed name, told him that his fiancee in Austria was angry with him because he had failed to send her money to come here and Join him. The man explained that owing to the hard times he had not been able to make as much money as he had expected.
Danek nisde friejidly overtures to "Krauser," who, In turn found work for the detective ln the same loft with blm in a ciotb mill.
Finally, room was made for him ln the' same bouse. He and "KHraser" there occupied small adjoining rooms, and Danek made it a point to be with tbe man all he could. Danek told "Krauser" that he bad done some stealing in Vienna, and that he was afraid he would never be able to return there. "Krauser" then said he had done some things in Austria himself which were not altogether right, and added tbat It would be well to have great care, as he had found that in America he could never tell when he might be talking to a detective. GAINS HIS CONFIDENCE. That was on January 10. Danek took the advice and then waited a few days before renewing the talk upon that subject. He and "Krauser" drank more than usual on the evening of January 14, and "Krauser," apparently certain that he bad found a friend in whom he could really confide, said he had some stolen goods of great value which he had brought from Vienna in a trunk. Then, under artful suggestions by the Austrian detective, he disclosed the tact that he had two paintings which he had taken from the galleries of Baron yon Lieben while he was employed as a butler in the home of the nobleman ln Vienna.
"Krauser" said that on the night he took them it was his intention to take another picture, which was alone worth 100,000 crowns, but that he was obliged to leave it befcind and take the two smaller and less valuable ones. He did not cut them from the frame. "Krauser" at that time did not, however, tell Danek where the pictures were, but caused him to believe they were still Jn Vienna. Danek gent a cable message the next day to have the house of "Krauser," ln Vienna, searched, This was done, and word come back to him that tbe pictures were not there. But before tbat answer wa» received, Danek had talked again with bis fellow workman, who told
him the paintings were in his trunk. He agreed to send for the trunk, and did so on the following day. -That night he showed the paintings to Danek, an- the detective decided on swift action. "
- The next night .he. proposed to "Krauser" that they go into business together, a proposal which was readily accepted. | .Danek agreed to pay the expenses of ''"Kmuser" to Vienna, so that the thief could bring with him on the return trip a | large quantity of 6tolen property which he had Jn Vienna and in Brunn, as well as to bring over their fiancees. Then, he was j told, they would sell the loot of their Aus- ■ trian robberies, pool the proceeds and open a saloon in Passaic, opposite the big mill I where both were employed, and grow I wealthy on the spendlngs of the mill hands. It was all arranged that way, and Danek l was to go to New York the next day and draw tbe money for "Krauser." They went to work, as usual, and at noon Da_e_ I obtained permission to quit work for the day. He had meanwhile without exciting suspicion arranged matters so that the I boardlnghouse keeper would go to the home of her mother, in another part of the town, ' for dinner, thus leaving him free to carry i out his plan. He had not slept for three nights and I had lain with a revolver within easy reach for fear "Krauser" might at any minute realise that he had made a mistake. Going to the house, he went directly to his own room, then into the room occupied by •"Krauser," and to the trunk, keeping a. weapon ready for instant use. He tapped the trunk, found by the sound where the secret compartment was, and then cut a piece out of tbe end and drew out the paintings. Following the example of the original thief he silt the lining of his overcoat, and dropped the pictures into the opening. •PUTS IN POLICE CIRCULAR. Then he put in the place where the paintings had been a copy of a large printed police circular, which was issued in 1005, describing the theft and offering a reward. On the back of it he wrote:— "You need not fear anything; nobody, knows anything; keep it to yoprself, In another piece of paper he placed a two dollar bill with the message:—"This; will pay for the damage to the box.'.'
Danefc placed the trunk against the wall in such a manner that unless It was moved np pne could pell it had been tampered with, then he left the house and was out of Passaic in less than ten minutes. Hq said nothing to his friends In Newark except that his work had been finished, and that he would Teturn to Vienna lp a few days. He left New York for Europe a week; later, taking with him the pictures.
ROMANCE OF STOLEN PICTURES., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 74, 27 March 1909
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