Stealing Murakami: The Plot Gets Still Thickerer

This was supposed to be a happy story, simple and just. Ring gets stolen. Ring gets recovered. Thief gets nabbed. Natural order is restored. Since the ring happened to be a rare, one-of-a-kind artwork from Takeshi Murakami, and that the theft happened during Art Basel, made it a story well worth telling. That the recovery took place in a pawn shop some two years later, just days before the ring was to be scrapped, and was only made possible by the keen eye of a certain David Tamargo, gave it a serendipitous slant — not to mention a storybook ending. Then the tale took turns no one could have envisioned.

First was the unequivocal “No Comment” from Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki studio, when by rights they should’ve been thanking their lucky stars the $72,500 ring was recovered. Then, as I reported Monday, it became clear that the bejeweled piece apparently wasn’t stolen from The Florida Room after all, but from the site of Basel satellite Design Miami, and rumor has it someone was paid a large chunk of change to keep mum. Worse, when Tamargo popped into Kaikai Kiki over Armory week in New York, he not only wasn’t thanked for what he’d so nobly done, but he was summarily booted from the studio.

Now I’ve learned that Kaikai Kiki has elected not to press charges, despite the due diligence of pawn shop owner Angel Parets and Miami Beach Police Department Detective Pete Rodriguez, who had a suspect in custody within 48 hours of the ring’s discovery. One would’ve thunk that Kaikai Kiki would be only to eager to prosecute; teach those crooks a hard lesson.

But don’t think for a moment that this case is closed. As the good Detective wrote last week when I asked for a copy of the original police report:

“The case is not closed as of yet due to my search for the actual thief of the ring has not concluded. The person who pawned the ring purchased or obtained the ring from another person. I am still looking for that person. I will advise you when the person is located.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were the culprit and I saw that a dogged detective was dogging me, I’d be a little nervous. Granted, Kaikai Kiki’s inexplicable move leaves the cops without much leverage and makes the case more difficult to pursue. Yet that hasn’t seemed to have deterred Detective Rodriguez. Nor has it deterred me. If anything it only makes me even more curious about Kaikai Kiki’s actions — and of their motive.

Frankly I couldn’t care less whether Kaikai Kiki filed a false police report (if indeed they did) or even if they’d paid off someone to keep it on the QT (if indeed they did that too). I’m no goody two-shoes; far from it. And I’m a firm believer in letting folks do what they’ve gotta do. But when what they do impacts a pal of mine, well, then I get cranky, and I get curious, and then I get to work. Had Kaikai Kiki simply said “Thank You” to the man who saved the ring from oblivion, I’d have left it at that. Had they gone on and offered Tamargo a reward, I’d have sung their praises from here to proverbial eternity. I mean, Tamargo went well out of his way to behave righteously. And all he got for his trouble was the pointed heel of a very obtuse boot. Why so kooky, Kaikai Kiki?

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