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The Curse of The Missing Masterpiece In process. Private consulting detectives Val Saxon and Laura Hampstead are summoned to the local branch of the State Dept., where they learn that a valuable painting by the artist Oskar Lubachenko has been stolen from the Russian consulate in NY. They learn also that the painting carries a seeming curse with it, in that several curators of the painting contracted illnesses and died soon after. The artist's widow, Natalia Lubachenko, claims she knows nothing of the affair, but it is from her that Val and Laura gain the most knowledge about the painting and her late husband.
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Lubachenko was Ukrainian, and he painted the piece soon after World War II when he was living in a gulag, sent there for his rails against the new Soviet Union and its harsh regime against art and artists in general. Soon after his death, the painting spent time in the basement of the Hermitage before it was sent to New York.
No one had seen or touched it before 1955. No one else had seen fit to study his style or his method since then. The piece was not very large, about 24" x 48", containing what looked like a pastoral scene in an impressionist style, with bold colors and sweeping brush strokes. But, photographs shown to Val and Laura of the piece are blurred and distorted, not like the others in the catalog. A subtle nod to science fiction. ♦
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