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Grand Scale Larceny
The Theft of the Flemish Primitives

The Story

Published by Lulu

Author Notes

There is nothing primitive about the Flemish Primitives. These paintings evoke powerful and emotional religious content and belong in a class by themselves. Usually commisioned by powerful people at the time, they are mostly located in museums worldwide and in churches across Flanders. Such works of art symbolize the heritage of a delicate area in Western Europe that too often turned out to be torn by wars brought by the Spanish, the Habsburgers, the French and the Germans. While art thus became a casualty in conflicts, this story describes new challenges in protecting the work of the masters.
Ever prone to thefts by individuals and organized crime syndicates, some of the paintings are unjustly on display in private homes.

It all starts with a murder in Antwerp by people connected to the Chechnyan rebels cause. There are repercussions in Washington DC, where Hannah Jacobs is the curator for the new National Museum of Art. She is organizing a unique exhibition of more than thirty Flemish Primitives paintings. On their way from various European countries to the United States they disappear, one shipment at the time.
Hannah’s attempts to solve the heist of over a half billion dollars in irreplaceable masterworks from the fifteenth century. When she gets close, the Mafia gets even closer to her. The Bratva or “Brotherhood” in Russia employs ex-Spetsnaz enforcers. Their conflict with Chechen criminal elements shows a free-for-all period in a Russia under Yeltsin and Putin. Their experience in money laundering makes them look for large projects with large gain. The Chechens fight the mighty Mafia while Hannah together with here fiancee Robert battles for the return of the paintings in a thrilling end.