The greatest art heist in history has gone unsolved for twelve years when a dying man whispers his final words to an almost-starving young artist. With a huge reward at stake, Brooke Lancaster races along the twisting roads above Nice, onto the dunes of Cape Cod, into a chateau-like museum and to Thoreau’s historic grave. Using little more than her wits and courage, she takes on thieves, Mafia goons and unscrupulous art aficionados who are as desperate as she is to find $350 million in paintings.
Club Lighthouse Publishing
The Falcon has a problem: He’s desperate to sell the twelve paintings he stole twelve years earlier from Gladstone, an art museum. The $350-million heist was the biggest in U.S. history—so big there’s a $6-million reward for the paintings’ return.
Brooke Lancaster also has a problem: She’s desperate to do what she loves—paint. But until she has some financial security, she can’t quit her two jobs to find out if she can make a living as a painter.
The Falcon needs a buyer. Brooke needs a windfall.
Suddenly, there’s hope for both. The Falcon gets an offer from a mysterious Frenchman. Brooke gets hope from a dying man’s last words.
With that, Follow The Falcon soars from a chateau-like museum outside Boston to the winding roads of the Cote d’Azur, from the dunes of Cape Cod to Thoreau’s ancient grave. Brooke pursues a dream while thieves, Mafia goons and unscrupulous art aficionados pursue her. At stake: fortune, freedom and twelve masterpieces.
Twelve years is a long time to hold onto $350 million worth of paintings if you don’t want them.
It’s even longer if you stole them.
The Falcon was a patient man, but his patience was almost exhausted. The risk, with no reward, had begun to wear on him. He had stolen Fabergé eggs, the Magnini diamond and Louis XIV’s crown, but none were worth even twenty million dollars. And none had been in his hands more than a week or two. Rich people hired him, he stole what they wanted, he delivered it right away, they paid. Simple—usually.
The problem wasn’t that his client had reneged. Quite the contrary. The client wanted the art—badly. He called weekly, then monthly, then yearly, then not at all. At first the client was insistent, then he turned angry and finally he became almost pitiful. The last time he actually pleaded.
Undoubtedly, the client was still very interested.
But hours after The Falcon’s colleagues broke into the Gladstone Museum and ripped the twelve paintings from its walls, things changed. The experts revealed the mind-numbing value of the art. Suddenly, the client’s fee of three million dollars seemed paltry.
The thieves had expected the heist to be big, but not the biggest in history. They had never stolen paintings, so they could only guess their value. And prior to the theft, numbers hadn’t been
bandied about publicly; they rarely are when paintings are safely on museum walls.
The thieves were stunned. When their heads cleared two days later, The Falcon convinced his colleagues to pass up their fee for, potentially, much more.
The Falcon knew that they wouldn’t get $350 million. Thieves never get full value for collectibles. But even the usual seven to ten percent was well worth the risk of trying to sell the masterpieces to some rich Japanese or Greek art lover with no scruples.
At least that’s what The Falcon had thought twelve years ago. That was before he had to lay low, refusing three lucrative jobs to avoid attracting attention. That was before his colleagues started to carp about getting their payoff.
The delay was really no surprise. First there was the cooling off period—nine years while the FBI and private detectives hired by the Gladstone Museum chased theory after theory, lead after lead. The trail was never hot (in fact, it was ice cold), but eyes were everywhere. Contacting even a friend of a friend of a potential buyer was just too risky.
Finally, when the authorities had lost much of their drive and had become resigned to relying on luck, The Falcon began to send out feelers. He was discreet, of course. That was how he had become one of the world’s greatest thieves of rare works. He got close to very few people in his business, and never once had a detective gotten close to him. He hunted his prey quietly, then swooped in fast. The Falcon lived up to his name.
In this case, however, The Falcon’s discretion made moving the paintings difficult. Worse, the art underworld seemed to be spooked by the media attention. No one had made an offer. At this point, the client’s fee was beginning to look pretty good.
Unless, of course, Jacques’ e-mail message bore fruit. It had said simply, “Expect a call from a man whose name has five letters and begins with D. He has 12 reasons to call. He seems legitimate. Eager. Told him it might take time.” The Falcon admired Jacques’ circumspection. They worked well together.
Would Mr. D offer ten million? Maybe twenty? The Falcon had day-dreamed about it, until now, three days after getting Jacques’ message, he suspected that the buyer had gotten cold feet.
Which is why the next two minutes were the most exhilarating of his life.
He sat reading the Monday Boston Globe in his study, walls of books surrounding him, a red and black Persian rug under his feet. The phone rang. “Hello,” he answered flatly, expecting nothing more than someone trying to sell him something. Instead, it was someone trying to buy something.