A painting pinched from the lobby of a downtown Dallas building was surreptitiously returned to its home on April 9, no questions asked. The large painting, an homage to The Eye sculpture rendered by artist Jay Cantrell, was spirited off by a mysterious mob of marauders who lifted the canvas right off the wall.
The giveback began on the morning of April 9, when the Woolworth received a phone call from an anonymous party, offering intel on the painting's whereabouts, says owner Brandon Luke.
"It was communicated that the painting was not damaged and they would call back with location details," he says.
Later in the day, unbeknownst to them, and without notice, a car rolled up at 2 pm to the Campisi's on Elm Street. The painting was deposited at the front door, and the car vamoosed, leaving them no way to finger the criminals.
"They literally dropped it off in a drive-by style," Luke says. "We didn't see them, and Campisi's didn't get it on video, so we don't know who it was."
The painting was lifted from its spot in a highly trafficked lobby shared by the Woolworth, Campisi's, and Sol Irlandes, where it had been hanging since July. Prepping for an art show, Cantrell went to take the optical artwork on April 1, only to discover that it had vanished.
Bystander Ryan Miller spotted the cheeky criminals from the bar at Dallas Fish Market where he was sipping a Macallan 12-year-old Scotch — "it's a good single malt," he says. He and his friends saw three to four guys toting the ocular oeuvre down Main Street towards Akard.
"My friend said, 'Hey look, somebody bought that painting.' But they didn't really look like guys who'd buy a painting," Miller says.
The theft was unusual because the 4-by-5-foot painting was so large that no one anticipated it would be stolen. The police began an investigation, and citizens waited for the long arm of the law to get the criminals in hand.
Cantrell got a call that the painting had been returned. "I heard something about it being a drunk prank and left at a friend's house. I don't know what to make of it," he says. "I'm just glad they brought it back.
"I think maybe I'm going to bolt it down to the wall so nobody can make off it with it."