[Click here for illustration of Dorian.]
NATO Intelligence, Bonn. The Major and the Chief were together looking at the life-size reprint of the Judgment of Paris by Lucas Cranach. The small oil painting on panel was one of the numerous fine art pieces that Nazi Germany had looted from all over the Europe during WWII to build the "Fuhrer Museum" for the inordinate ambition of Hitler and Goring. When the defeat of Germany became clear toward the end of the war, the Soviet army advanced on Germany and took two and half million pieces of fine art and cultural assets collected by Nazis to their country. More than half of those articles were returned to Germany in the 1950s, but a million of them were still secreted in Russia. A recent study revealed that Judgment of Paris, one of the pieces under the jurisdiction of the former KGB, belonged to the family of the Baron von Pliesnitz of Germany.
[Cranach painted several paintings of the same subject: the one in this episode is another version of the Judgment of Paris in the Carlsruhe Museum in Paris, according to one of the characters in this episode, an eccentric Dutch painter called Hans de Jon.]
The Russian government announced that they were willing to return the painting to its rightful owner; in the background of this sudden courtesy, there was the slight aggravation between NATO and Russia on the issue of participation of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia in NATO. Russia was trying to make political use of the item it had stolen fifty five years ago to ease the tension. The Chief assigned Klaus to attend the ceremony to return the painting to the Baron's family at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
[Click here for illustration of Klaus.]
Klaus was not much impressed by the painting as, to him, the three naked girls (goddesses) looked underdeveloped and too low on fat. The Chief explained that the eroticism of small breasts and roundish lower body was one of the charms of Cranach. Klaus grimaced as if the Chief uttered an obscenity. The Chief warned him that he should read up on the painter, or he would be treated lightly by the Russian high officials at the ceremony. Klaus told him that, before leaving, he'd read the Fine Art Collection for Kids, the gift from Dorian when he had been in hospital after being seriously wounded by the KGB at Istanbul in the episode The Seventh Seal.
When Klaus was about to leave, the Chief let slip an offhand remark that he should handle this assignment as a light exercise after the vigorous workout at the tank corps in England. Klaus tensed, but ignored the comment completely. "You're ashamed of being sent back to us, aren't you?" asked the Chief. Next moment, he dashed to Klaus and pinioned him from the back. "Oh, thank you for coming back, Major. I'm happy, very happy." Flabbergasted, Klaus tried to shake him off, but the Chief did not let go of him. To get free from the embarrassing hug, Klaus had to assure him that he did not hold a grudge on what had happened and was content being back at the Intelligence Office. Outside the Chief's room, the secretary told the Major that the Chief had seemed very lonely while Klaus had been away and that he should forgive the Chief's strange attitude. Inside the room, though, the Chief smiled complacently. He thought showing such patronizing sentimentalism was a good strategy to silence the ones like Klaus who didn't like to be cared about too much. "He'll go on with his job with no complaint." Which actually turned out to be true.
[Click here for illustration of Klaus and the Chief.]
Back in the office where every alphabet started pretending to be concentrated on their work the moment the Major came in, he fixed his gaze on the reprint of Judgment again. Something clicked in his mind. He called the agent A, who was in high spirits with the bald spot gone, to his desk. "Mr. A, you exchange emails with Bonham, don't you?" he asked the agent, who turned pale. "Let me remind you that I monitor all the agents' correspondence on my computer. You informed Bonham of my return to the Intelligence Office," he said. The poor agent swore shakily that he hadn't spilled any important information to them. Klaus showed the reprint to A and ordered him to spy out Lord Gloria's schedule through Bonham and give them false information that Klaus would stay in Bonn when the ceremony would be held.
The Earl's residence, London. When James was reproaching Dorian for idling at home (he declined the opportunity to steal Renoir and van Gogh), he got a call from the father and son Bakhzial in Beirut; they told him that Salim al Sabaah, the oil prince brat [a character who appeared in Midnight Collector and Seven Days in September] and successful Kuwaiti investor, had purchased quite a few German Renaissance paintings from the Russian Mafia in the black market lately. It was an outrage for Dorian that the precious pieces had fallen into the hands of an ignorant snob like Salim. With his rivalry/hostility inflamed, Dorian did a little research on the art pieces sold by Russian smugglers. A Russian dealer of his acquaintance taught him that the pieces Salim had purchased were very likely the fakes distributed by a former KGB official called Demchenko who became a Russian Mafia member at the collapse of the Soviet Union; he used to be the director of the facility control division under which the plundered art pieces had been kept. His method of swindling was to prepare counterfeits of the notable pieces and sell them to target clients. Eroica scoffed at Salim's misfortune. Then, James appeared with the newspaper article about the return ceremony of Judgment of Paris at the Hermitage. Eroica at once decided to steal the panel painting from under the nose of NATO and the Russian government to demonstrate real professionalism and true love of art.
[Click here for illustration of Salim and Dorian.]
St. Petersburg. At Demchenko's office. He got a call from a certain billionaire in South America who had coveted Judgment of Paris for a long time. The old man was coming to Spain sometime soon, and he'd purchase Judgment at the seller's price once he could confirm it as the real thing. A fake Judgment had been painted a while ago and kept at Demchenko's office. He would sell the real one (which was already in the museum for the experts' examination) to the billionaire (whom he assumed was not reading European newspapers closely) and have the fake returned to the German Baron, who would get either of them for free, anyway. Demchenko ordered his secretary to bribe the security guard of the museum so that they could steal the authentic piece after it was proven to be real by the experts.
[Click here for illustration of Demchenko.]
Eroica, disguised as an art history professor "Gloria Doriana Redman" from the University of Surrey, forcibly joined the group of Western scholars assembled at the Hermitage Museum to scrutinize Judgment a day before the ceremony. Professor Redman's radical feminist attitude chased every member of the group away. No one dared to check on her identification in fear of her hyper-sensitive feminist attack. Incessantly screaming "sexual harassment" and "discrimination," Eroica went through the investigation on the security system of the room where the Cranach was stored. In doing so, he secretly admired the intense aura the painting was radiating.
[Click here for illustration of Dorian in disguise as Prof. Redman.]
The reception room of the museum. The officials in charge and the current German Baron were there to get ready for the next day's ceremony. The presence of hard-featured men glowering at the people made them feel somewhat uneasy. They were Mischa, Polar Bear and Iron Klaus. [Note: Mischa and Polar Bear are still active as intelligence agents for the Exterior Intelligence Office of the Russian Federation -- #15: Nosferatu.] Mischa pointed at the Major. "NATO must be in some kind of plot to disgrace Russia. They wouldn't have sent a know-nothing of fine art into this kind of ceremony otherwise!" Klaus honestly told him that he was there for the friendship mission between NATO and Mischa's country. Polar Bear brought up the subject of the recent friction between German and British armies in Salisbury base in England [Lt. Col. Eberbach]. Mischa mocked Klaus by calling him the "boomerang Major". Klaus retorted that being a boomerang was better than being an ex-labourer in Siberia. Polar Bear stopped them at the threat of fisticuffs and they followed the people heading to the ceremony hall for rehearsal. In the corridor, they passed by the group of art experts who had finished examining the Cranach piece. Gloria Doriana Redman peeked out from under the settee in the corridor and whistled at the sight of the three. Not having anticipated the Major to be among the NATO representatives who were to witness his extraordinary performance, exhilarated Eroica declared to Bonham and James that he'd leave a clear Eroica signature on this work.
[Click here for illustration of Mischa, Polar Bear, and Klaus.]
The Hermitage, late at night. One of the two security guards pointed out to his senior that the monitoring camera was not catching the image of the painting. The sweating, extremely nervous-looking security guard fixed the camera angle with shaking hands. Bribed and threatened by the Demchenko gang, he had purposefully directed the camera off-angle from the painting so that the Demchenko's man could replace the fake Cranach with the real one. The easel in the room was now holding the fake piece.
A little later (one in the morning), Eroica again in the dreadful Redman disguise came back to the museum to complete the easy task. She shrieked at the exhausted-looking security guard that she must go back to the room of the painting to get the material a stupid Russian officer had left there; "I need it to write a paper which I have to submit by tomorrow!" she said, snatched the key from the hand of the frightened guard, and entered the room. Redman reached to the camera, moved its angle pretending to probe for something on the shelf, took the painting, put it in her shoulder bag and left. Thus Eroica's face was surely caught by the video camera and the Cranach was now his, or so he thought.
At four in the morning, Klaus in the hotel room (already up and just out of shower) received a call from an official of the German Foreign Ministry. There was a problem and they needed him at the museum immediately. The call from the Chief followed. In the car, a German official informed him of the robbery of the Cranach. Klaus reminded him that the case should come under the jurisdiction of Russians (and none of his business), but the official ordered him to collaborate with Mischa and Polar Bear in search of the stolen piece, which was the mission NATO assigned him in compliance with the agreement between the German and Russian governments. When Klaus was about to protest against the cooperation with Mischa, he was given the second blow. "That bald Russian testified that the thief was your acquaintance." He presented Klaus the picture of the thief caught by the security camera. "The art thief calling himself 'Eroica'." Klaus was taken aback by the fierce-looking woman in the picture.
After hearing what had happened briefly, Klaus vehemently blamed the lazy security guards who took their eyes off the screen for a good ten minutes while Eroica was with the painting. But then, Mischa stormed in and told Klaus not to buck-pass the responsibility upon the museum's security system. He was thoroughly convinced that Klaus and Eroica together were in the NATO conspiracy to disgrace Russia. In turn, Klaus reproached Mischa's country for trying to cover up their mess by the false accusation of NATO. When the mood in the room was starting to take a seriously ugly look, Mischa and Klaus were strictly warned by their superiors and reminded of their mission to collaborate with each other. To both ones' disgust, a former KGB building in Moscow was prepared as their joint investigation HQ. Mischa mockingly asked Klaus if he needed a guide. "No thanks," the Major answered. The German diplomat emphatically reminded Klaus to be more friendly with Mischa before leaving him. On the way out of the museum, Klaus bit his lips. "For the sake of mission, I'll put up with the suspicion-swelled Russians all right. But what I can't stand is the fucking queer who brazen-facedly showed off his robbery in front of me. After all, he's the origin of all the misfortunes of mine -- he was the one who made me the boomerang Major, and the one who trapped me in the cooperation with Mischa."
[Click here for illustration of Klaus and Dorian.]
Moscow. The Alphabets arrived at the former KGB building where NATO and the Russians were given separate rooms. They saw a middle-aged woman with a moustache knitting in front of the telephone in the conference room. In their assigned room, the Major was standing on the chair on the desk and checked the florescent tubes on the ceiling. Klaus signed them to hush and debug the entire room first. When they thought all the bugs were removed, Klaus told them in a loud voice that the woman with the moustache was Mischa's fifth wife. The alphabets got hysterical. Klaus looked outside the door, but there was no commotion in the corridor (which meant the room was cleared of the devices; or Mischa would have rushed into their room in rage). Klaus started the briefing. The picture of the thief was discouraging enough for the Alphabets even before they started the work. The Major wrote an email to Eroica through A's address to Bonham.
Mr. A sent the email to Bonham. Klaus guessed Dorian was watching the Cranach contentedly in some hotel room in St. Petersburg, which was true, but not exactly as Klaus imagined.
Dorian was perplexed in front of the Cranach placed on the chair. Something was awfully wrong. It looked like Cranach, but the aura he felt the previous day at the examination room was gone. He put out a magnifying glass and scrutinized the painting. He was appalled to discover that the tiny amoretto on the upper left corner of the painting was sticking out his tongue, which wasn't that way in the original painting. Dorian crossly asked Bonham to call a Dutch painter Hans de Jon in Amsterdam. The eccentric painter was a genius in forging Northern Renaissance painters' works, and once or twice in the past Eroica and his party commissioned him to paint some fakes, too. Eroica was convinced that the Cranach in his hand was one of his copies.
Amsterdam. Hans de Jon when received Eroica's call was possessed by Albrecht Dürer. [Click here to see how Hans de Jon looks and is dressed. It's Dürer's self-portrait at the age of 26, in Prado Museum.]
[Click here for illustration of Hans de Jon.]
Eroica asked him point blank if the Cranach in Russia was his work. Hans admitted that it was and asked Eroica where he had seen it, out of curiosity. "It's classified information," answered Eroica. To his question who commissioned him to forge the Cranach, Hans merrily answered it was classified information, too. Eroica barked at him.
Hans, shocked by Eroica's uncharacteristically severe tone, confessed that he painted the counterfeit requested by Demchenko, the former KGB and now a boss of Russian Mafia. Eroica also learned from him that Demchenko had the real one and was planning to sell it to a billionaire in South America. Hans de Jon warned him it was too dangerous to get involved with the Russian Mafia. Eroica retorted:
Being cheated by Demchenko just as Salim had been infuriated Eroica. Then the Major's email came to Bonham's address. Eroica replied to the mail at once with lots of exclamations.
Then he told Bonham to ignore any mail from the Major from now on. "This isn't the time to be dealing with the Major." He must see Demchenko and find out the whereabouts of the real Cranach before it was sold to the billionaire.
Klaus had no trouble interpreting the strange mail. "This means Eroica was palmed off with a counterfeit." His insight impressed agent A. Then the extraordinary nervousness of one of the security guards came back to the Major's mind. "Someone might have switched the real one with a fake before Eroica took it." The younger guard testified that the camera had gone off-angle once before Eroica sneaked in the room. He sent agent A to search the senior guard on the possibility of involvement in the case. As Mischa's men were told to tail after A, two parties started keeping eye on the poor guard off-duty, who was forbidden mentioning the theft by the authority. He realized he was watched by both the German and Russian intelligence organizations. At wit's end, the guard made a call to Demchenko against the Mafia's order not to contact them directly.
The news that the fake had been stolen by the world-renowned art thief and that both NATO and Russian intelligence agents started the investigation in strict confidentiality disconcerted Demchenko. Among all, the most disquieting was the Russian in charge of the case -- Mischa the Cub, an out-and-out secret agent with no prospect of being softened by a bribe. He knew him very well since the days in the KGB. Keeping the painting at hand became too dangerous. He made up his mind to immediately get out of the country to Spain and sell the painting to the billionaire. When his secretary was given instructions for necessary arrangements with the customer in South America, someone referred to by one of the smugglers came to see Demchenko at his office. They introduced themselves as the president of Gate Gallery of London (Bonham) and his secretary Wellington (Dorian in a striped suit, eyeglasses and his hair all-back and tied behind). Wellington explained one of their clients was asking for German Renaissance paintings. "For example?" Demchenko asked. "The piece such as Cranach's Judgment of Paris," Wellington answered provocatively. Demchenko smiled as three bodyguards entered the room. "Wonderful. So, which organization are you from?" The bodyguards assaulted the two and took their passports and a credit card (the card was meant to be left at Demchenko's office; it was a card-type radio microphone).
[Click here for illustration of Bonham and Dorian in disguise.]
It was the unfortunate agents D and E who found James sitting on the street in the classic Japanese beggar's fashion and waiting for the Earl and Bonham to come out of Demchenko's office building. The two R/T'd the Major for instructions.
Surrounded by the burly bodyguards, Wellington told that they were in fact the messengers from Salim al Sabaah who, having discovered he had been cheated, was extremely angry and demanding Judgment as an apology. He added that they knew the one in the museum was a fake and Demchenko had the real one at this office. Demchenko said it was spoken for. "Too bad, Salim is willing to pay double the price," Wellington said. Dorian thought the time was running short. Demchenko smiled. "If he wants it that much, please tell him to wait another couple of months. In the meantime, I may be able to convince my client to give up the painting." It was apparent that he'd have Hans de Jon paint another fake and sell it to Sabaah. Just about to make a move to leave the room, the two were stopped by Demchenko. "You should wait until we talk to Sabaah and confirm your identification." "Take your time," Dorian and Bonham smiled in cold sweat when...
...the agents D and E rushed into the room, chasing James. Eroica and Bonham took advantage of the timely confusion to escape from the window with James. They easily shook off D's and E's chase. The alphabets' report that the bodyguards of the suspicious trading company had gone after Eroica interested Klaus very much. Demchenko not being a handsome homosexual of Dorian's penchant, the Major was almost certain that the real Cranach was in the company. He gave an order to investigate Demchenko & Co.
Back in the hotel room, Eroica and the two others eavesdropped on the conversation which took place at Demchenko's office. James complained about the expense of the card microphone, but Dorian persuaded James to be cooperative in this project of selling the fake to Sabaah after they would take possession of the real one. "You can profiteer from the deal as much as you want. Aren't you happy?" The verb "profiteer" kept on working like magic which would propel James in some critical moments in the story.
The scene in which German-speaking intruders chased his nondescript British guests in front of him confused Demchenko and made him even more wary. He packed the painting and was getting ready to leave. To Dorian and Bonham's bewilderment, their exchange through the device revealed that the billionaire to whom Demchenko would sell the painting was a former Nazi criminal hiding in Uruguay; the eighty year old man had coveted the Cranach for 60 years since he first set eyes on the painting among the collection of Goring, the head of the Luftwaffe. In great excitement, the Nazi criminal promised Demchenko to fly to Spain right off with his two grandsons. Demchenko left the office to the airport with his interpreter/secretary.
Bonham suggested that Dorian pass the information to the Major because "there's no statute of limitations for Nazi criminals." Dorian would do so after he stole the real Cranach. With the fake Cranach in James's backpack, the three departed to Jaen, Spain.
In the park in Moscow. Mischa was being briefed by one of his subordinates on the security guard, when the Major appeared to have a word with him. Klaus was to offer Mischa the veracious information that Eroica stole a fake Cranach and that the real one was in the hands of a Russian illicit art dealer who might sell it outside the country. Mischa, still doubtful of the Major's motivation, snorted that Klaus came to purposefully confuse their investigation by making Russians villains. Klaus refrained from telling about Demchenko and declared that he would give them no more collaboration. After the Major left, Mischa urged his man to go on with the report on the guard: the person who had referred the man to the museum was the former KGB agent, Andrei Demchenko. The moment he heard the name of the most wicked official who had feathered his own nest in the office, it dawned on Mischa that Iron Klaus had really intended to share the critical information with them. Mischa knew Demchenko too well and bore him a bitter grudge from the experiences of the KGB period. He was certain Demchenko was the mastermind of the case.
NATO Intelligence sent the woman with the moustache to Demchenko & Co. Wearing a bug, she made an embarrassing scene at the reception desk and corkscrewed Demchenko's destination in Spain. (NATO had to pay her with an Hermes scarf in return.) Jaen, the third largest city in Andalucia. The report from the alphabet at the Iberia Airline office in the city confirmed the information. Klaus and the alphabets were heading to Jaen after one stop at Bonn. Mischa's subordinates followed their moves.
Polar Bear and Mischa went to request the authority to keep the case strictly secret and postpone the ceremony until they retrieved the painting. Mischa was going to Spain while Polar Bear would investigate Demchenko for indictment in Russia.
Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain. The old man from Uruguay in a wheelchair, accompanied by his grandson, Carlos (Banderas in his youth is his model), was met by Michael (blond and blue eyes), Carlos's big brother, who had been there a day ahead for the necessary arrangements. Their exchange tells us that the old man is partial to his fair grandson (because of the genes of blond hair and blue eyes) and harsh to the dark one, who is regardless so caring and protective of the senile Nazi that not only the Earl, but many readers started falling for him. Michael assured the eighty year old that Demchenko would arrive the following day to deliver the Cranach. They left the airport for Jaen.
[Click here for illustration of Carlos and Michael.]
Eroica and James were watching Demchenko's appearance outside the town of Jaen. A flashy Mercedes rarely found in the country came and, while Dorian was observing, there came out a handsome, dark youth. It was Carlos. Carlos set eyes on Dorian and lowered the sunglasses to better look at him, as he was impressed by Dorian's perfect blond hair and blue eyes. Inspired, Dorian went to talk to him (James whined).
Carlos completely ignored Dorian and left for the bus terminal. James jeered at Dorian for being cold-shouldered. While Dorian talked about the E-series Mercedes on the cellular phone to Bonham on the watch at the terminal, Demchenko arrived on the bus and disappeared in the very car Dorian was referring to. Meddlesome local people swarmed to Dorian and James, offering more information than they needed: the Mercedes was owned by a squire and the local celebrity called Carpio, and the present head of the family was a young dentist practicing in Madrid; the whole family and farm were practically run by the seasoned butler; and the dark-haired young man in the Mercedes appeared to be a guest of the family, not a member. The three drove to the mansion of the family through the vast olive fields, guided by another local. The estate was surrounded by a tall iron fence with tight security system and guarded by dozens of Dobermans and German Shepherds at large in the property. Dorian smirked, but there was no time to waste, as another German Shepherd (the Major) was certainly following them. They were to go back to the town once and elaborate a plan to get inside the house.
The innocent young couple of the Carpio family -- Benito and Pilar -- tended to feel ill at ease whenever they came home to Jaen from Madrid, particularly in front of the stern butler, Pablo. They had lunch at "Santa Catalina" in the town every Wednesday when they stayed in Jaen. Benito asked Pablo if they should invite Herr Hauser, the friend of Benito's late grandfather staying in the guest house with his grandsons, to the lunch at the restaurant. "Herr Hauser has visitors from Russia at the moment," Pablo snapped. "He is too old for the invitation, and it is my job to take care of the friend of your grandfather." [Spain at the period of the Franco government was pro-Nazi and many Nazi criminals were harbored by their Spanish friends.]
[Click here for illustrations of the Carpios and Pablo.]
At the guest house, Hauser paid $50 million in cash for Judgment of Paris to Demchenko, who was going to stay out of Russia for awhile. While the old geezer held the painting in ecstasy, his grandsons wondered what was so good about the painting of skimpy little girls.
[Click here for illustration of Hauser.]
Cordoba, Spain. Klaus was briefed by the agent A about the movements of Eroica and Demchenko. Not knowing the involvement of the old Nazi criminal from Uruguay, Klaus deduced that the painting had been sold to the wealthy Carpio and Eroica was planning to steal it from them. The Major collected some information on Carpio from the local agent, including the couple's lunch at a restaurant every Wednesday.
The restaurant "Santa Catalina" in Jaen. Benito was handed a rough sketch of him and his wife by a waiter. They looked at the sender of the sketch, who was a flamboyant British artist called himself Dorian Greene. The president of Gate Gallery of London (Bonham) explained to the couple that they were preparing for the artist's exhibition in Spain. Following suit of any local celebrities, the Carpio couple were too easily charmed by artists and intellectuals. They invited them to their house. While the couple and the artist were chatting, the chief of the local tourist bureau came to Benito and said there was someone he would like Benito to meet. It was a German travelogue writer who happened to be staying in Spain with his secretary. The painter and the president of Gate Gallery became tense to see the writer, Klaus Schmidt (with eyeglasses on) and his secretary Hans (Mr. A). Benito introduced the German writer to the English artist, asking if they had known each other. Sparks of hostility were emitted between Greene and Schmidt.
[Click here for illustration of Klaus and Dorian as "Greene" and "Schmidt".]
Benito and Pilar invited the two parties to their house at ten o'clock in the evening. All excited for the rare opportunity of having cultural celebrities at their residence, they would summon the local friends (snobs) and have a party. After they left, the writer declared to his poor secretary that, a reticent writer as he was, the secretary had to deal with the local chatterboxes.
Mischa and his men were also in Spain and they tracked the movements of Eroica, Demchenko and the Major. Mischa also came to the same assumption as Klaus that Eroica was going to steal the painting from the Carpio estate. Mischa, pretending to be a buyer from a Russian food company to import olive oil from Spain, took the chance to approach Benito on his way back home from the restaurant. Benito told him about Dorian Greene and Klaus Schmidt they invited to the party at evening. Mischa, genuinely excited with reason, said he was a big fan of both who were also popular in Russia, and begged Benito for the opportunity to meet the painter and writer in person. Gullible Benito invited "Ivanovich" to the party, too. Mischa was again convinced that the Major and Eroica had been conspiring right from the start.
Pablo the butler warned Hauser's grandsons to keep low profiles in the guest house that night, as unknown German, Russian and British guests were coming to their estate. He was particularly wary of the German who might be the special agent after Nazi criminals.
Carpio residence, at night. Eroica was certain that the target painting was inside the guest house with the Nazi criminal. He was met by Klaus and Mischa outside the house. Bickering among themselves, they went inside. "Mr. Greene must be interested in the art collection of the family," said Mischa alias Ivanovich, who guessed the concerned painting might be hidden among the family collection. The butler guided them to the art room filled with works of the Spanish artists. Mischa told Klaus that Cranach didn't appear to fit the category of Carpio's art taste.
Dorian's loquacity made the other two suspicious. Then Pilar emerged to take them to the party room. The gaudy sight of the local guests scared Klaus and Mischa away. Dorian unconcernedly asked the butler about the guests staying in the guest house . The butler said they had gone to Granada for a couple of days, which Dorian didn't buy.
Mischa soon got a splitting headache in the frenzy of the Spaniards' party. Women rattled on to each other like machine guns, a man suddenly started dancing Flamenco with no apparent reason, and a poet (a local policeman) kept on reciting his own poems while no one was listening. The disorder was torture for a Russian like Mischa. He went to ask for a headache pill to the German writer who stood in front of the French door with his back to the people. After several bellows, Klaus Schmidt turned to look at Ivanovich. He was wearing earplugs. Mischa and Klaus managed to get out of the party leaving Eroica to take care of the racket until the soporific they put in everyone's glasses started working. When the last one fell asleep, Dorian called the butler in mimic of Benito with the recorded party noise as the background sound and told him to go to sleep but leave the gate open. Time to go on with the business.
Eroica sent Bonham to the art collection room while he and James (carrying the fake Cranach on his back) headed for the guest house in the dark. He was sure that the old man was in the house with the painting. "Old people's bedroom should be on the first floor, and people keep precious objects close at hand."
Bonham listened inside the art room through the door. There were sounds as if someone was moving around for search and even the voice of the Major. Bonham R/T'd Eroica in hushed voice that the yard was clear of the Major. Then the agent A and Mischa's man opened the door in front of Bonham; they knew what Eroica was after was not in the room. Bonham heard recorded voice of the Major.
Inside the old man's bedroom. The real Cranach was hung on the wall. Eroica whispered James that they would replace the fake with the real one. But James vehemently refused to leave the fake there, which meant he'd lose the means by which he could "profiteer". James and Eroica struggled over the fake painting in front of the sleeping old man. When they returned to themselves, the old man sat up on the bed and stared at them. Then there was a voice of one of his grandsons upstairs, calling his brother's attention to the noise below. James snatched the fake and jumped out of the window before Eroica, claiming the painting was his. "Thieves!" the decrepit old man yelled with the toothless mouth. Eroica followed James to the yard, but lost sight of him. Inside the room, Carlos and Michael called the butler in the main house to report on intruders and tried to calm down the old man, who was utterly confused to see the painting was still hanging on the wall.
As Dorian was about to look for which way James had fled, the Major appeared blocking his way.
Then they heard a sharp cry of James somewhere else in the huge yard.
The Major's "Schwachkopf!" made Carlos and Michael inside the guesthouse turn pale with consternation. A nondescript German was sneaking around them. They asked for Pablo's help.
At the time, James was being caught by Mischa and his men. For fear of being heard by Iron Klaus, they snatched with great reluctance the body of James who firmly held on to the painting, and took him in the car. They started the car, but one of Mischa's men became so sick of his smell that they had to stop to put James in the compartment -- with the lid slightly open because the subject was a live perishable.
Klaus and Dorian saw Mischa's car leaving. To Dorian's disappointment, Klaus told him coolly there was no need for him to chase them because they were on the same assignment. Dorian pleaded him to retrieve at least Mr. James from Mischa. Klaus said, "Better worry about yourself than the garbage. Listen. They released the guard dogs. Run to the gate, now!"
They ran for their lives toward the main gate. The barks of ferocious dogs got closer and closer. The butler let the dogs go and closed the gate right after he got a call from the Hausers. The agent A, having overheard the conversation between the butler and an employee about the thieves and the dogs, set fire to some indoor plants to distract their attention and Bonham opened the gate and cut the main power of the entire house.
In the meantime, Klaus and Dorian were caught up by the herd of snarling dogs. Reaching to his pocket, Klaus asked Dorian if he too was equipped with the ultrasonic device to keep the dogs away. "Of course," Dorian answered, only to find out that he had dropped it when he had fallen from the old man's bedroom window. Dorian stood right next to Klaus, biting his lips.
When the Major was trying to push him out of the safety zone, they saw the cars of the agent A and Bonham coming.
[Click here for illustration of Klaus and Dorian being menaced by the dogs.]
Klaus shoved Dorian onto the car driven by A and followed him, guarding themselves against the angry dogs. He ordered the agent A to be careful not to run over the dogs.
As a matter of fact, Dorian had to tell many lies to the Major who started investigating him in the car: i.e. they successfully took the real Cranach, but James fled with the painting because he was jealous of the young grandson of the billionaire, and that Dorian knew nothing about the old man save he was from Uruguay.
Mr. A stopped the car in front of Mischa standing by his car. Mischa grumbled that the accountant had managed to escape from the compartment with the painting. Dorian turned upon Mischa with the accusation that he might have killed and buried James somewhere. Bonham assured Dorian that James would be back to his lordship no matter how. As there was some reason, Klaus decided to watch Eroica and Bonham until the stingy bug was back, while Mischa and his men went searching the olive fields.
Klaus stood in front of Eroica's hotel, assuming a position to wait for James' return.
The agent A stopped Klaus from charging at Dorian with clenched fists. Eroica and Bonham took to their room, where yet another surprise waited for them. There was James falling asleep on the floor firmly holding the fake painting in his arms. Dorian sighed a sigh of relief that the Major didn't follow him to the room. The two mapped out a plan: they'd make a color copy of the fake painting, paste it onto a panel, which they would give to James who couldn't tell the color copy from the painting, and use the fake painting to fish out the old Nazi for a cunning negotiation. In the morning, James was given sleeping pills and Bonham in disguise was sent to a copy shop.
At the guest house of the Carpio estate. The old man was shown the pictures of three foreigners caught by the security monitoring video -- Mischa, Klaus and Dorian. He pointed at the man with long, curly blond hair as one of those who had stolen Judgment of Paris the previous night. Michael reminded him that the painting was still on the wall, but the old man insisted it could be a fake. Appalled, Michael took the painting down to his grandfather's lap and told him to check it closely. "It's fifty million bucks, grandpa. Take a good look at it!" he said. The old man was losing his confidence. "It looks slightly different from last night, but I don't know." Before Dorian even attempted, they were trapped in the cobweb of doubt that the painting they had was a fake. Carlos's testimony that the Englishman had come to talk to him the day Demchenko arrived further convinced the old man and Michael that the thief had long planned the robbery. Hauser assigned Michael to get the thief and retrieve the Cranach, then ordered Carlos to look for the German of the photo. "In case he's a Nazi hunter, you know what to do, don't you?" "I'll finish him off," Carlos answered.
Carlos took out a gun from a locked drawer. Michael warned him to be careful, as it was not South America. Carlos, with suddenly energized eyes, reminded his brother how Nazi hunters were vile and dangerous. Michael thought, "a gun in his hand changes this guy's personality completely. I took blue eyes and blond hair after grandpa, whereas my brother inherited the genes of the Nazi officer's cold-bloodedness from him." Carlos with another personality left to go after Klaus Schmidt.
In the main house of Carpio, Pablo calmly tried to convince the confused-looking Benito that the previous night's party had been successful and the foreigners had left satisfied. Nothing could be better than sending the couple off to Madrid in blissful ignorance. An employee came to deliver an envelope to the Carpio's guests. Pablo found a color copy of the painting inside. The message said, "to know more about the painting, call this number." Pablo called for Michael.
A ring. Dorian picked up his cell phone.
The old man became frantic at the remark and told Michael to accept his proposal. Michael asked where to meet for exchange. Dorian said it would be the place where many people would gather....
In the town of Jaen, Carlos (and the Carpio's employees) saw several Germans (the alphabets) loitering in front of a hotel (where Eroica was staying). Carlos suspected they could be associated with the last night's German. Then agent B came to the grouchy Major and fumbled about a man witnessed by locals, who had made a color copy of an old panel painting with three naked girls: without doubt Bonham and the Cranach. The Major exploded at B's rambling explanation. "Get to the point, schwachkopf!" The same "schwachkopf!" Carlos had heard the previous night helped the amateur assassin spot his target. The Major and the alphabets went up to raid Eroica's room. Dorian and Bonham escaped from the window by a hair's breath. Eroica waved at the Major from on top of the roof a little distance away. "Come get the painting, dear!" Dorian exclaimed cheerfully, with his index fingers on both sides of his head pointing at the raging Major, who was again stopped by the agent A from chasing the thieves on the roofs. They found James in deep sleep, tightly clutching the color copy pasted on a wood panel. While they were watching, James giggled and said, "profiteer!" in his sleep. Feeling sick, they left the room. The agent A suggested that, considering Eroica's gesture, he had meant to tell the Major to come to the bullfight arena. Outside the hotel, Carlos heard the alphabets called his target "Major". If he was a German military officer, he must be after his grandfather. He was thrilled.
A huge fighting bull is charging at him; a cloud of people are cheering "Toro! Toro!" and two big horns are approaching him at a great speed. Surprised, Klaus woke up from the nap. He found himself dozed off in a sitting position on a chair, exhausted from the sleepless night. "The afternoon languor of Spain is a demon." He brushed off the bangs with his fingers.
Here's how Klaus interpreted the series of Eroica's actions: he stole the real Cranach from the guest house successfully but did not leave the fake there; James fled with the original and sneaked back to the hotel room somehow, therefore both the real one and the fake were in Eroica's hands now; Bonham made a color copy to temporarily deceive James, and the two were gone with both paintings. Eroica tried to bring the Major out to the arena to show off another outrageous performance of his. Then Klaus arrived at a quite unfair conclusion for no apparent reason. "He's poor. He's after money, too." Eroica would trade with the billionaire at the arena, giving him the fake in exchange of a huge sum of money.
Mischa and his men searched the olive fields for James to no avail under the glaring sun. They came back to the town and found the agent G around the Earl's hotel. Threatened by Mischa, G took them to Eroica's room where James was asleep. Mischa ordered him to R/T the Major. In the course of the familiar bickering on the radio, the Russians learned from Klaus that Eroica would appear in the bullfighting arena with the painting. Mischa and his men followed G to the arena. A little after the door was shut behind them, James opened his eyes. He was feigning sleep and listened to their conversation. He was upset because Eroica put him to sleep and left him alone. James departed to the arena, too.
The arena entrance area. Michael and the old man were in the car. The fair grandson told the old man to stay in the car with the supposedly fake painting while he would negotiate with the thief in the arena. The cranky old geezer didn't like being treated by his grandsons as an invalid senile. He ordered the Carpio's chauffeur to drive around for a while. Then he saw one of the thieves he had witnessed in his bedroom groping on the ground; it was James looking for an admission ticket. The chauffeur dragged James inside the car. James became the old man's hostage.
When cross-dressed Eroica (pants and a pair of riding boots) started looking for the Major among the spectators and Klaus and Mischa were after Eroica, the bullfighting started. Eroica spotted Michael in the binoculars, then Carlos. There was something strange about Carlos. He was carrying a gun. Eroica quickly shifted the binoculars to the direction where his gun was aiming at. It was the Major. He yelled out a warning to the Major at the top of his voice, but it was too far from the opposite side of the bullring. He jumped inside the ring against the restraint of the guards and ran straight toward the direction of Klaus, who turned his face to the commotion. Klaus too jumped inside to catch the thief. Carlos opened fire from the guns he held in both hands. There started a great fuss and confusion. As the Major ran around to ward off the bullets in the middle of the ring, all the matadors ran away and the audience rushed to the exits in panic; Carlos ran out of ammunition and disappeared among the crowd.
The sound of gunfire ceased and Eroica looked around; there were only three of them left inside the arena -- him, the Major and the bull with four swords stuck on his back. The bull and the Major were staring at each other. The animal started charging at him. Klaus dodged the first attack easily. Eroica applauded, the alphabets argued what to do and Mischa and his men settled themselves on the deserted seats to enjoy the Major's performance. Klaus took off his jacket and shook it in front as if it was the cape of a matador. He threw it sideways for the bull to go after it, but it wasn't deceived and tilted straight at the Major. He grabbed the bull's horns but was thrown on the ground by its great force. Watching the Major in serious danger, the alphabets were only flustered, but Eroica didn't hesitate to take off his (perhaps red) jacket and waved it toward the bull and shouted "Toro! Toro!". He cried out to the Major to escape while he attracted the bull's attention. Klaus yelled, "No! Lord Gloria, too dangerous!" but it was too late. The bull charged at Eroica with a rumbling of the ground. Now in great fear, Eroica turned around and started running from the beast. Klaus grabbed the bull's tail and shouted to Dorian to hurry to the shelter. In the meantime, the matadors came back to the arena to help the Major. Dorian jumped in behind the wood shelter the moment the bull hurled itself at Dorian head-on. Thrown by his own force, the bull's head was trapped in the narrow walkway behind the fence with its hind legs kicking the air frantically. The Major ran to Dorian and grabbed his arm to help him up. "Lord Gloria, aren't you hurt!?" But the next moment (as if recovering his senses), he threw Dorian inside the pathway and shoved him around. "Where is the painting!? Own up!" "Wait!" Dorian pointed at the alphabets and Mischa approaching them. "There come the useless spectators!" Dorian reproached the Major's subordinates and collaborators for their cowardice and indifference, but Klaus interrupted Dorian's speech. "We know your plan to swindle the billionaire out of the fake painting! It's you who have the real Cranach!" Dorian meekly pretended as if the Major's guess was right.
[Click here for illustration of Klaus, Dorian, and the bull.]
Then Mischa's men going after the gunman radioed their boss that Carlos's white Ford was heading in the direction of Baeza with an old man and a blond guy. Mischa and Klaus dashed to follow the car. Now Klaus has another mission to arrest the former Nazi on top of retrieving the stolen Cranach.
Carpio estate. Pablo had had enough of the Hausers and the series of dubious events since their arrival. Knowing what the old man really was, the loyal butler had reluctantly followed Benito's grandfather's will to be hospitable to the old German and his relatives (Miguel, the grandfather of the current head of the family, was a good friend of Hauser during WWII). However, his patience ran out when he learned that his grandson had sprayed bullets in the town arena and fled in Carpio's chauffeur's car. There was also the report from the policeman (the poet at the party) that the gunman at the arena looked like one of their guests. He must protect the prestigious family name from being soiled by a scandal. Then Michael gave him a call from Baeza asking for a dispatch of a helicopter to take them to Madrid before going back to South America on urgent business. In calm voice, Pablo told them to go and wait for the helicopter at a Carpio's farmhouse located 50 km to Linares from Baeza. It would be the last time for Pablo to follow the late master's will. He ordered the employees to dispose all the belongings of the Hausers and erase every trace of their sojourn from the guesthouse.
Eroica's cell phone rang. It was from Michael, who still tried to exchange their real painting with Eroica's fake. "If you keep on acting like gangs, you can't have it," Dorian warned. "Even if your friend is with us as a hostage?" Michael asked. Stunned, Dorian and Bonham looked at each other. Then James shrieked into his ear from the other end of the line (the old man immediately gagged James to interrupt the annoying noise). James and "fake" would be back to Dorian if he'd follow their instruction and give them the painting at the designated farmhouse. Eroica accepted his last opportunity to acquire the real Judgment of Paris.
Eroica and Bonham were to choose dirt roads to the destination, avoiding NATO and Russians. On the way to the farm, Carlos fired a machine gun to several cars of Mischa's men and alphabets after their Ford. In the meantime, the Major stopped at Baeza to change his dirt-and-bull-saliva-soiled suit into a Spanish souvenir T- shirt and trousers which the agent A went to purchase for him as a makeshift outfit (the discreet Major changed inside the Mercedes with all the windows covered by newspapers). The agent A requested the military base in Malaga to fly a helicopter to Baeza urgently. [The vice commander at the base was Mendoza who was stationed at the Saragossa base in Seven Days.] Mischa forcibly and arrogantly went on board with the Major.
Near the farm, Eroica became wary to see that Carpio's large farm grazed fighting bulls. Carlos stopped their car with a gun. Michael and the old man came out of the farmhouse with James (tied and gagged) and demanded Dorian to produce the painting. The old man scrutinized the fake and declared it was the real Cranach. Dorian stifled laughter. They pushed James toward them and put the real painting in the cloth bag in which Eroica brought another, "so that it would not get soiled." When Dorian was about to thank for their consideration, Michael suddenly hurled the bag in the middle of the grazing bulls. Dorian turned pale. "Go get it, if you really want it. Hurry, or the bulls will step on it," the old man chortled. James urged Dorian to go inside the fence to retrieve the painting, but Dorian couldn't approach the animals after being charged by the bull in the arena. Without hesitation, James jumped inside and started crawling toward the painting while everyone was watching in surprise.
Then they heard the sound of an approaching helicopter. Michael reminded his grandfather it would be Carpio's helicopter that came to fetch them. Enjoying the sight of James flat on the ground sidling toward the painting among the huge beasts, the old man told Michael to have them wait until the show was over. But then, Michael and Carlos realized it was a military helicopter of the Spanish air force. At the same time, Klaus and Mischa on the air spotted the white Ford parked at the farmhouse. The helicopter descended. Everyone on the ground instantly recognized who was coming down. Eroica and Bonham shouted to James to hurry to get the painting, Michael carried the old man under his arm and yelled at Carlos to shoot down the helicopter. Carlos randomly fired the machine gun at the helicopter. Enraged, Mischa ordered strafing, but Klaus stopped it lest the painting would be damaged. The helicopter flying low and the sound of the machine gun agitated the bulls. The deafening sounds also erased Eroica's cry to call James crawling in the middle of the pasture. Finally, the stampede began. Eroica and Bonham ran away from the bulls and the Hauser family rushed inside the farmhouse. Klaus and Mischa jumped on the ground while the ground was cleared of the bulls by the helicopter, chased by one bull and leapt in at the window. Carlos blindly fired toward the sound of the crashed window. The Major and Mischa separated in different directions. Klaus hid behind a corner with a gun at the ready and watched Carlos, who temporarily stopped gunning and looked for where they went. Something made a rustling sound behind Carlos; he turned around to the direction of the sound, turning his back to Klaus. The Major shot him on the shoulder. Carlos fell on the ground. Picking up Carlos's machine gun, Klaus said to the source of the sound, "Well timed, Mischa." Mischa's voice answered from the totally opposite direction. "Right, I got the painting." The timely rustle was made by an ox taking a nap behind the box. Klaus grunted.
The old man shrieked and protested to Klaus that a German should not give the painting to a Russian. "This will be returned to the rightful owner in Germany," Klaus told him and arrested the Nazi criminal. He was going to be sent to the Nazis Pursuit Center in Germany and put on a trial. "It's Germany's responsibility to eradicate the evil of the Nazis," Klaus said with a shuttered expression. The old man started sobbing into his hands; Carlos consoled him.
Dorian watched Klaus and Mischa leaving the farm on the helicopter with the Hausers and the fake painting. He climbed a big tree to avoid the stampede. Bonham came to let him know it was safe now to get down as the herd of cattle had gone away. But James was nowhere in sight. When Eroica was looking for the ground for pieces of James and Judgment of Paris with heavy heart, a shrieking voice came from up above. "My Lord, is there a purse or something on the ground?" It was James perching on a branch of a tree, and he held the painting high to show his lordship that it was unharmed. Dorian hugged James.
Dorian blanched. He had no intention of selling the authentic piece to Sabaah, but obviously what made James to go rescue the painting sacrificing his own danger was the obsession to make money out of the Cranach. "That was with the fake! I won't sell this real one after all these ordeals!" Dorian exclaimed. Then, another helicopter, the one dispatched by Pablo for Carpio's guests arrived. They took advantage of the convenience to fly to Madrid for free. On board, listening the murmur of James that the real one would sell at a higher price than a fake, Dorian and Bonham shuddered with a gloomy foreboding. They might have to ask Hans de Jon to paint another fake for the accountant right after they got back.
Back to the Hermitage Museum. The return ceremony of the troublesome painting was finally over. Klaus and Mischa were grumpily standing side by side without talking to each other at the reception party. Polar Bear approached Mischa and reported that they had apprehended both Demchenko and Hans de Jon. Klaus snorted at the sight of two burly Russians hugging each other, celebrating their success joyously. Then he was called up on the phone. It was from Eroica.
After listening to Eroica, Klaus cut off the line without commenting. "The bugger harasses us again!" he fumed. Mischa asked him what was wrong. Klaus whispered into the Russian's ear what he had heard from Eroica. Mischa dismissed the story with a laugh, but they both went to the painting anyway to have another look at the amoretto, which Mischa even had not realized was in the picture. "He said it would be the fake if that one's sticking out its tongue." They peered into the small binoculars. In an instant, their look turned dark and dangerous. But what could they do now? Mischa and Klaus walked away from the Cranach in opposite directions. "Next assignment is waiting for me at Moscow!" Mischa exclaimed. Klaus declared that he would never again get involved in fine-art related cases. Whatever the outcome was, their mission was over. After them the deluge.