Joe Simon, The F.B.I. and the Strange Case of the Missing Artwork
That opportunity to steal came when DC Comics moved from Third Avenue to the Rockefeller Centre. To facilitate this process the art was gathered up and stacked onto pallets for the move, but, sadly, nobody was keeping track of who was actually moving it. In the same article an un-named DC staffer is quoted as saying, “In retrospect, of course, it was a dumb move. Had Sol known any better, maybe there would have been an in and out inventory. But nobody gave a shit. The art went in and out and no one looked twice." With that in mind it should have come as no great surprise when DC discovered a fairly sizable amount of art missing, including some choice covers and pages by Neal Adams, Jack Kirby, Bernie Wrightson, Michael Kaluta and others. According to the same article, written when this was fresh in everyone’s minds and recollections were sharp, the theft was apparently an inside job. An anonymous art collector said at the time, also in the fanzine, "The plan was simple. Have a friend on the moving crew 'misplace' a flat of artwork. Later, if it was discovered missing, it could easily be found without getting in trouble. If no one noticed it was missing, it was just taken away later. Certain staff members had decided to rip-off some of the pages, and it was an inside job."
According to an inventory done later, a reported 1928 pages of original art and covers were stolen and soon made their way onto the open market. The first time the art appeared is when the thief attended a New York convention and began selling pages to dealers, most of whom have since sold that art for very large profits. A lot of this art never makes it to the open market, despite the pleas of ‘liberation’, clearly nobody wants to run the risk of a legal confrontation. For years Neal Adams has made it clear that any DC art that he’d drawn that was part of the heist and was considered to be stolen and as such belonged to him. DC Comics also released an open letter t the time stating that they wanted the art back and threatened legal action, but, as time later told, this was an empty threat at best. Adams has since given up his fight and now we might have a clue as to why, and that involves the F.B.I, DC Comics and Joe Simon.
Another result of these interviews was a person who may have been acting for the dealer made contact with Joe Simon directly under the guise of arranging a commission. During the resulting phone call, the third party made mention of the art deal, asking if Joe remembered it. Joe steadfastly denied the story that his daughter sold 300 pages for $100, primarily as Joe had always told his children the true value of his original art. Joe’s response to the claims and the resulting phone call were incredulous, and it felt it was beyond the realms of possibility that the circumstances of the deal could be believed – in Joe’s own words, “What are they asking us to think? That ---------- somehow found the DC Comics warehouse, got possession of all the art and then sold it for $100? This instance of ------- that this price was so very low is obviously part of a grand strategy of lies that I do not comprehend.” The last line in the letter was telling, “------ and his family originally claimed that I had given him the art. Maybe they grew tired of waiting for my demise.” Joe recorded the phone conversation and sent the tape to the F.B.I. where it resides to this day.
Although the F.B.I have redacted their files, as so not to identify anyone still possibly living, there are more than enough clues for those in the know to identify both the graphic artist and the dealer who threatened to instigate legal action to prevent Joe from getting his hands on his own art. Naturally there’ll be those who’ll justify the actions of both the graphic design artist and the dealer, but, as I’ve pointed out, theft is theft, and it should make no difference if the pages came from either DC Comics or Joe Simon’s daughter – they were stolen from Joe Simon and should have been returned, not held to ransom, but, sadly, that’s always the way these things go when there’s money involved.
|And neither knew, that down the track, both would be screwed by those who called themselves 'fans'.|
As ludicrous as it sounds the person close to Joe even made little noises about legal action, at which point I told him to go for it. I also said that if he, and Joe, believed that I'd forged FBI documents, then to go ahead and contact the FBI and let them know as well.
Never heard another word...