Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Treasure Hunt: The Mystery of The Missing Monet

As you are sitting in the lobby of the Watson Office Building waiting for your financial advisor to bring you your updated portfolio, you settle comfortably in a big leather chair and begin to people watch.

The first visitor to catch your eye is a bike messenger, arriving with a package-filled backpack and a long document tube. The messenger disappears into an express elevator labeled 31st Floor. You think “Hmmm, he must have something for someone pretty important if he is going up to the 31st floor.” You have been coming to this building periodically for the last several years to get investment help on a small inheritance. You’ve only ever been on the first floor as that is where your financial advisor’s office is located. Five minutes later, the messenger reappears and leaves the building, still carrying the tube but one package lighter.

Taking his place in the elevator is an elegantly attired man, an older gentleman, using a cane as he limps heavily on his left leg.

The gentleman reappears in the lobby ten minutes later. On his exit from the elevator he nearly collides with a woman in a Gucci suit. The umbrella in her left hand becomes momentarily entangled with the cane in his right.

“Watch where you’re going,” she snaps.

“My apologies,” he replies.

The man limps off and the woman presses her button and fidgets with her umbrella until the elevator door closes. Five minutes later she exits the elevator and hurries off.

Soon after, your stock broker comes out of his office door and hands you your updated portfolio. You thank him as he returns to his office, but rather than leaving, you settle back into the comfortable leather chair and wait. Call it a sixth sense, curiosity, or boredom, but you are sure something exciting is about to happen.

Just then a pair of police officers rush into the lobby and take the same express elevator to the 31st floor. “It’s about time they called in the police,” you think.

When they leave the building a half hour later, you decide to follow them to the Bear Claw Coffee Shop. You slip into the booth behind theirs, quietly order an English muffin, and eavesdrop.

“What was a million-dollar painting doing in the reception area?” the older cop asked his partner. The two policemen continue to discuss the details of the case and you learn that the 31st floor contained the offices of the Watson Company’s top brass, and the furnishings in the reception area included a small Monet oil, about one foot square. Only three visitors had been alone there long enough to cut the painting out of its frame – a bike messenger delivering documents, the ne’er-do-well uncle of the company president wanting to borrow a few dollars, and the vice president’s estranged wife, who had come to complain about her allowance. All three had visited the offices before and could have previously noticed the unguarded painting.

“Excuse me,” you say as you rise from your booth and amble up to the officer and his partner.

“Yes?” says the older of the two policemen.

“Would you like me to tell you who stole that painting?”

“Who are you?” asks the officer. You tell the officer that you happened to be in the building lobby when the three suspects entered and left the building. “All three suspects had receptacles that could hold a rolled-up painting.” You tell the officers. “The messenger had a document tube. The uncle had a cane. The woman had an umbrella. And while it’s tempting to accuse the last person to walk through the reception area, it wouldn’t be wise to jump to that conclusion. The painting could have been cut out of its frame at any time and no one may have noticed.”

The older officer replied, “So it could be any of them!”

“And it could be an employee who found someplace clever to hide the painting. But there is only one suspect that you need to check out. That is…

If you tell the officers it was the bike messenger click here.

If you tell the officers it was the company president’s uncle click here.

If you tell the officers it was vice president’s estranged wife click here.

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