I felt a little nervous then, and believe me, I never get nervous.
‘Just … thanks for today, that’s all. The boys said you did a fine job.’
I don’t know why I didn’t tell him about the painting. I suppose I should have done, but it didn’t belong in the darn warehouse, after all. It wasn’t anything to do with the darn warehouse. That old German woman couldn’t give two hoots what happened to it as long as it wasn’t looking at her any more.
Because you know what? I secretly like the idea that you could have a painting so powerful it could shake up a whole marriage. And she’s kind of pretty. I can’t stop looking at her. Given everything else that seems to be going on around here, it’s nice to have something beautiful to look at.
The courtroom is in complete silence as Marianne Andrews closes the journal in front of her. Liv has been concentrating so hard that she feels almost faint. She steals a look sideways down the bench and sees Paul, his elbows on his knees, his head tipped forward. Beside him Janey Dickinson is scribbling furiously into a notepad.
Angela Silver is on her feet. ‘So let us get this straight, Ms Andrews. The painting you know as The Girl You Left Behind was not inside, and never had been inside, the storage facility when your mother was given it.’
‘And just to reiterate, while the storage facility was full of looted works of art, stolen works of art, this particular painting was given to your mother, not even within the facility.’
‘Yes, ma’am. By a German lady. Like her journal says.’
‘Your Honour, this journal, in Louanne Baker’s own hand, proves beyond doubt that this painting was never in the Collection Point. The painting was simply given away by a woman who had never wanted it. Given away. For whatever reason – a bizarre sexual jealousy, an historic resentment, we will never know. The salient point here, however, is that this painting, which, as we hear, was almost destroyed, was a gift.
‘Your Honour, it has become very clear these last two weeks that the provenance of this painting is incomplete, as it is for many paintings that have existed for the best part of a turbulent century. What can now be proven beyond doubt, however, is that the painting’s last two transfers were untainted. David Halston bought it legitimately for his wife in 1997, and she has the receipt to prove it. Louanne Baker, who owned it before him, was given it in 1945, and we have her written word, the word of a woman renowned for honesty and accuracy, to prove it. For this reason, we contend that The Girl You Left Behind must remain with its current owner. To remove it surely makes a mockery of the law.’
Angela Silver sits. Paul looks up at her. In the brief moment that he catches her eye, Liv is sure she can detect a faint smile.
The court adjourns for lunch. Marianne is smoking on the back steps, her blue handbag looped over her elbow, gazing out on to the grey street. ‘Wasn’t that marvellous?’ she says conspiratorially, when she sees Liv approaching.
‘You were brilliant.’
‘Oh, my, I have to confess – I did enjoy it. They’ll have to eat their words about my mother now. I knew she would never have taken a thing that didn’t belong to her.’ She nods, taps the ash off her cigarette. ‘They called her “The Fearless Miss Baker”, you know.’
Liv leans over the rail in silence. She pulls up her collar against the cold. Marianne smokes the rest of her cigarette in long, hungry gulps.
‘It was him, wasn’t it?’ Liv says finally, looking straight ahead.
‘Oh, honey, I promised I wouldn’t say a word.’ Marianne turns to her and pulls a face. ‘I could have kicked myself this morning. But of course it was. The poor man is nuts about you.’
Christopher Jenks stands. ‘Ms Andrews. A simple question. Did your mother ask this astonishingly generous old woman her name?’
Marianne Andrews blinks. ‘I have no idea.’
Liv cannot take her eyes off Paul. You did this for me? she asks him silently. Oddly, he no longer meets her gaze. He sits beside Janey Dickinson looking uncomfortable, checking his watch, and glancing towards the door. She cannot think what she will say to him.
‘It’s an extraordinary gift to accept without knowing who you are getting it from.’
‘Well, crazy gift, crazy times. I guess you had to be there.’
There is a low ripple of laughter in the courtroom. Marianne Andrews shimmies slightly. Liv detects unfulfilled stage ambitions.
‘Indeed. Have you read all your mother’s journals?’
‘Oh, good God, no,’ she says. ‘There’s thirty years’ worth of stuff in there. We – I – only found them last night.’ Her gaze briefly flickers towards the bench. ‘But we found the important bit. The bit where Mom was given the painting. That’s what I brought in here.’ She places great emphasis on the word ‘given’, glancing sideways at Liv, and nodding to herself as she says it.
‘Then you haven’t yet read Louanne Baker’s 1948 journal?’
There is a short silence. Liv is aware of Henry reaching for his own files.
Jenks holds out his hand and the solicitor hands him a piece of paper. ‘My lord, may I ask you to turn to the journal entry for the eleventh of May 1948, entitled “House Moves”?’
‘What are they doing?’ Liv’s attention is finally drawn back to the case. She leans in towards Henry, who is scanning the pages.
‘I’m looking,’ he whispers.
‘In it Louanne Baker discusses her household move from Newark, in Essex County, to Saddle River.’
‘That’s right,’ says Marianne. ‘Saddle River. That’s where I grew up.’
‘Yes … You’ll see here that she discusses the move in some detail. She talks of trying to find her saucepans, the nightmare of being surrounded by unpacked boxes. I think we can all identify with that. But, perhaps most pertinently, she walks around the new house trying …’ he pauses, as if ensuring he reads the words verbatim ‘… “trying to find the perfect spot to hang Liesl’s painting”.’
Liv watches the journalists rifle through their notes. But she realizes with a sickening feeling that she already knows the name.
‘Bollocks,’ says Henry.
Jenks knows the name too. Sean Flaherty’s people are way ahead of them. They must have had a whole team reading the journals through lunchtime.
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