Stealing Murakami: The Plot Thickens

Even before I broke the story last Wednesday, the plot revolving around the recovery of the stolen Takashi Murakami Doruku ring was getting thicker and thicker. First there was the unequivocal “No Comment” from the New York offices of Kaikai Kiki, the Japanese artist’s studio, when by any rights they should have at least expressed some joy over the piece being found.

Then there was the fact that Joshua Wagner, the GM of The Delano Hotel’s Florida Room, had never even heard the ring had been swiped from the club he runs, though that of course was what Kaikai Kiki claimed on the police report. Then, when Urban Hunter David Tamargo popped into Kaikai Kiki for a visit, they kicked him out, which isn’t how one would’ve expect the folks to treat the very man who saved their jewelry/art piece from being scrapped in the first place. Would a simple “Thank You” have been too much to ask? Apparently so.

Then, after the story broke, the plot got thicker still. It now seems the ring wasn’t stolen from The Florida Room after all, but from Kaikai Kiki’s booth at Design Miami. Furthermore, a certain “publicist” is rumored to have not only hushed up the theft, but he also reportedly (we’re still trying to confirm) took a rather large chunk of change to do so. Of course Kaikai Kiki isn’t talking. At the time of this writing the media reps of record haven’t replied to my query either. So if it turns out I’m casting unwarranted aspersions, I’ll apologize. I mean, I dig Murakami as much as the next cat. And I feel likewise about Design Miami. But if that part of the story is indeed true, it not only adds a rather sordid element to things, but it also begs the question: “Why?”

More importantly, why not reward Tamargo for the recovery? After all, it’s not every day that someone stumbles upon a stolen something worth $72,500 and then has the good character to notify the rightful owners. Instead, he gets summarily booted from the studio without so much as a fare-thee-well?

Of all the folks in Miami, Tamargo is perhaps the most uniquely suited to the discovery. Not only is his place of employ (The World Erotic Art Museum) upstairs from the very pawn shop where the ring was found, but he’s exhibited in several museums and galleries, both nationally and internationally, that have featured Murakami’s work. In addition, his girlfriend Lindsay Scoggins was part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Youtube Play Biennial last fall in which Murakami was a judge, and she will curate a show at the Royal/T Gallery in Culver City, California featuring Murakami artwork slated to open June 2011.

Add it up and it makes him very familiar with the artist’s work — and with the high prices the artworks fetch. Had he been a different kind of cat, he could easily have bought the ring, flipped it and reaped some great reward. Since Kaikai Kiki can’t even be bothered to thank the good man, maybe that’s just what he should’ve done.

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