Summary: Agent Burke and his team are after an art forger who donates his work instead of selling it to unsuspecting galleries. Warning: The story contains non-consent punishing of an adult; if you don't like, don't read. Disclaimer: White Collar belongs to USA; I only write about it
This story features Carolyn, El and Peter Burke and their surrogate grandson and son, Neal.
It was Sunday and Neal was catching up on his reading of the New York Times Art Beat. He was skimming through it when something caught his eye "Prolific Forger Gets an Exhibition with His Name Attached." He was intrigued and had to read more and as he read he began to smile and then he began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" asked Mozzie as he walked in unannounced as usual.
"Oh, nothing," lied Neal; he knew his buddy wouldn't like what he was planning so he didn't say and switched the conversation to something else. "I picked up a new Cabernet Sauvignon. Why don't you try it out and see if it's any good," Neal said as he expertly steered Mozzie away.
It was Monday morning when Peter gave Neal the two finger point and Neal hurried to see what was up. "Neal," Peter began as his CI and partner entered the office. "We have a new case," he added as he handed the folder to Neal to look over. "It seems we have a new art forger in town; only this one isn't accepting any money for his art," explained Peter as he grabbed his coat and walked out of the office with Neal following behind. Neal briefly gave Peter's back a small smile before placing the folder back on Peter's desk and running after him pausing at his desk to grab his coat and hat.
The two made small talk until they arrived and Peter identified themselves to the owner of the art gallery who immediately led them to his office where the painting was located.
"Mr. Thomas why do you suspect that this painting is a forgery?" asked Peter as he glanced at the painting in question.
"Because I know for a fact that Paul Cézanne's "Still Life with Apples and Peaches"
is hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and as good as this forgery is it isn't the real thing," replied Dennis Thomas. "I saw the real thing!"
Peter glanced at Neal for confirmation and sighed as Neal agreed.
"Thank you for calling this to our attention Mr. Thomas. If we can have the forged painting and anything he might have left with it we will be on our way. Who knows what he ultimately has in mind. He may be giving them away now only to charge another gallery for the painting later," Peter said as he nodded for Neal to grab the painting.
"He left the provenance along with the painting that I assume must be fake as well…take it if it may help to find out who he is. With talent like this he should be signing his own name and offering his work to galleries," remarked Thomas as he gave everything he had to Peter.
The next day while having breakfast with El Peter noticed the coffee mug he was drinking his coffee from and remarked upon it. "When were you at this gallery El?"
"I wasn't, Neal brought them by; he said he was there and the mugs caught his eye and thought I would like them so he bought me two…one for you and one for me. I told him any old mug would do for you since you seldom take notice of what you are drinking your coffee from only that you are drinking your favorite coffee. I'm surprised that you noticed," El added as she explained.
"Oh, I only noticed because we have a new case…it's an art forger that seems to be targeting small or new galleries. He hit this gallery yesterday," explained Peter as he took another swallow of coffee.
"What did he forge and how much did he take them for?" asked El interested.
"It was a Paul Cézanne and it had something to do with fruit," Peter replied, "but he gave them the painting. That's what's so strange and we think that he is doing a long con and in the end will try to rake in the dough."
"Well I'm sure the dynamic team of Peter and son will have it solved in no time," remarked El with a smile.
Peter glanced at his watch and said hurriedly, "If I don't get going soon our son will be impatiently waiting at the curb," and after taking a last swallowed got up and kissed his wife before heading out to pick up Neal on their way to work.
"It's about time," groused Neal as he got into the car, "I've been waiting for nearly thirty minutes and there is good wind blowing today."
"Oh, it hasn't been that long…you're just scared that you will come down with the sniffles and Mom will make you come to her house so she can nurse you back to health," teased Peter.
Neal smiled good naturally, it was great being a part of a family even though his grandmother tended to use old fashioned means to cure any ailment and backed up her
orders with her hairbrush. "But seriously why were you so late?"
"I was commenting to your mother on the mugs you gave her."
"You actually noticed mugs…let me check and see if you are running fever," exclaimed
"Very funny…but the only reason I noticed was because they came from that gallery George struck yesterday," replied Peter not noticing that he gave the case nickname until Neal said,
"George? You have already identified the culprit?"
"No…I nicknamed the case George Forges," Peter replied sheepishly.
"Oh…well I guess it is better than Burke the Jerk name I came up with while you were chasing me," Neal replied with a laugh at Peter's expression.
It was two weeks later that the gallery just a few blocks from the Burkes called to say that they had been given a painting that turned out to be a fake. Peter grabbed Neal and the two of them headed for Monet's Garden Art Gallery; a gallery that featured several of Monet's works.
"I was out of town Agent Burke when the painting arrived. My staff was elated to be given such a nice piece of art by Monet. It was when they were given the provenance that they thought it had to be legit…and I must admit that I was fooled for a moment as well. It is an excellent copy of "In the Garden" but the color was just a little off," Mr. Carlton, the curator said as he pointed to an area of the painting. The young man who did this piece even got the signature perfect at the lower right.
"Young man? Can you identify the forger?" Peter asked excitedly.
"Maybe I spoke in haste; the person who delivered the painting was young…I just assumed that he was the artist. My staff said that he was charming and had knowledge of the art in the gallery," the curator said.
"Are any of your staff here today that talked with him?" asked Peter as he looked around the gallery.
"Yes…Mrs. Daniels was here that day and was the first one that he approached," Mr. Carlton said as he led him to an older lady at the front.
"Charlotte, this is Agent Burke from the FBI and he wants to talk to you about the young man who brought us the forgery," Carlton said as he made introductions.
"Mrs. Daniels can you give me a description of the young man who brought the painting?" Peter asked at once.
"He was white with brown eyes," remembered Mrs. Daniels, "and he had artist's hands," and at Peter's curious expression hastened to explain. "The hands were soft and supple. The fingers are thin, long, artistic and well-formed."
"Then in your opinion this young man was the artist who painted the painting he gave to you that day?"
"He could have been but he made no admission to that fact," she replied.
"How tall was he?"
Mrs. Daniels looked around the gallery and caught sight of Neal and said, "about the same size and built of that young man over there admiring the Van Gogh," she said as she pointed to Neal.
"Thank you Mrs. Daniels and we will see if anyone in our database fits this description," Peter replied courteously and went back to talk once again with Mr. Carlton.
"Thanks so much for your help; we will be going now and I'll let you know if we catch him," Peter said as he picked up the provenance and motioned for Neal to get the painting.
"Mrs. Daniels," Peter paused to offer her his card, "if you think of anything that might help us identify this young man please do not hesitate to call. I don't care how minor you might think the information may be."