Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Original Art Stories: Ivan Reis's Nightmare

Anyone who collects original art has heard various horror stories about the risks of sending the art via the post. Boxes turn up late or not at all, and it always seems that by writing the words, "Fragile - Do Not Bend Or Damage" on the side of anything is viewed as a challenge for the postal workers, not a warning. I've had two items turn up looking like a truck ran over them in a puddle - the first being a lovely Jim Mooney Batman pin-up and the second being a Norm Breyfogle commission. Luckily for me both artists had packed the art in such a way that it'd have taken a lot to damage the art itself, but give the postal monkey's their due, they certainly gave it a good try. The Mooney package was so damaged that I couldn't bring myself to open it for about a day. When I finally did I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I once had a Breyfogle package clearly marked, and paid for, Air Express that came via the slowest boat known to man. No explanation other than, "Oh, we made a mistake,", no apology and no refund for Norm. But still the art all arrived and is safe and happy here.

I thought those would be the worst that could happen. I've also had art not arrive, but in the last day I've heard a story that makes me feel very ill indeed - a situation where the package arrived but the art didn't.

The image you've been looking at is the original cover art to Green Lantern #21, penciled by Ivan Reis and inked by Oclair Albert. The art was sold by noted art dealer Spencer Beck and bought by collector Matt Hull. According to Matt, "The piece was shipped via UPS and only the outside packaging arrived. The packaging had been obviously cut open with a box cutter or knife and the artwork removed." Now if this wasn't bad enough whoever opened the package and lifted the art then re-sealed it and let it go on it's merry way. Matt went on to state that, "Officially UPS said that it probably fell out and got lost along the way, however unofficially they said it was most likely stolen by one of their package handlers." Cold comfort indeed. In other words, officially the art is now 'lost', unofficially someone at UPS stole it. It's every art collectors nightmare come true. Matt is now in the process of filing a police report which will now mean that whoever has the art will officially be in possession of stolen goods.

A quick check of Beck's site shows that similar covers are fetching anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 each. As this is a stunning item I'd hazard a guess and say that it would have been near the top of the scale. What scares me the most is that this art was stolen in transit. That means that somewhere, out there, is a person within the postal system of the USA (and more than likely elsewhere) who has identified the box by the name of the sender, or the description, and decided to help themselves to the contents.

If you ever see this art then be well aware that it's stolen - pure and simple. If it surfaces near you then email Matt, Spencer or even me and I'll pass it all along and you can remain totally anonymous if need be. There's no hidden agendas here, Matt just wants his art.

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