“This stolen painting of Kelli was returned to the artist by Susan and Bradd Martone with the assistance of the Edgartown, MA Police Department. Thanks to their cultural conscience we are happy to share the first public exhibition of this summer moment of youth and beauty that can be enjoyed by JHI guests and visitors alike.” Max Moran
The letter that accompanied the return of Kelli:
“Returning Kelli Newman” By Susan Martone Social Ethics
I had memorized every inch of her in the same way a parent memorizes a child. Slight blonde waves at the top of her head, pink cheeks and slender calves. Kelli Newman was beautiful, and for 5 years, she was mine. She graced our home with the class and elegance only something truly fine can. I loved her. Now, I gaped in horror at the website photo that was unmistakably her, and the newly discovered knowledge she really wasn’t mine. She had been stolen 5 years earlier. In shock and disbelief, my husband and I walked in silence to the Edgartown Police Station, knowing the loss looming ahead of us represented a joyful reunion for another.
Perhaps I should have known 5 years earlier Kelli Newman was too good to be true, but at the time, it seemed completely reasonable. It was Edgartown after all, an affluent town on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. If Kelli Newman wasn’t someone’s hasty cast away, she most probably represented the spoils of a relationship gone sour.
During the week of May 3rd, 2008, my friend Hilda and I strolled into the Boys and Girls Club thrift store in Edgartown, MA. There she was leaning on the floor against the usual suspects of thrift store art, “Kelli Newman,” a magnificent mural-sized oil painting of a nude. The painting was signed in the lower right hand corner, “Max Moran, 1988.” On the back of the canvas painted in broad-brush strokes, “Kelli Newman.” The thrift store sales person speculated the painting hadn’t sold due to its tremendous size and nude subject matter.
This painting was stunning. Its colors, vibrant blues, greens and yellows propelled me back in time to days gone by of a carefree existence. Gazing at Kelli Newman’s youthful abandon on the beach, I felt Edgartown’s soft sand cushioning my elbows, and the warm rays of the sun blanketing my shoulders. A feeling of peace and tranquility transcended the canvas. Kelli Newman inspired me, and I aspired to be just like her. I bought the painting. I had to have it. The price was $25.00
My husband, Bradd, schlepped the painting on the ferry commute home pin-balling funny quips and comments with an array of curious on-lookers. A couple of sophisticated-looking folks felt the painting was as spectacular as I, so, upon returning home, I googled “Max Moran” and found his website.
Max Moran appeared to be an artist of note, so I sent him an email requesting the painting’s value. When no response came, I surmised Kelli Newman was an earlier inconsequential work, but my masterpiece, nonetheless. We had Kelli Newman framed, and she took up residence in our dining room.
Five years later, almost to the day, my husband and I were again relaxing in Edgartown. It was mid-afternoon on Monday, May 6, 2013, when I discovered Kelli Newman was a stolen painting. My husband was putting together a puzzle, while I sat harbor view conducting random Safari searches on my iPhone. I was considering another painting seen earlier in the day at the same thrift store, so I searched that painting’s artist, “Atwell,” but no website appeared. Enjoying the rarity of free time, I typed in “Max Moran,” and clicked search. With curiosity, I opened one of the first links that appeared, “Max Moran Stolen Art.” http://www.maxmoran.com/index.html#/stolen-art/
Max Moran’s Stolen Art webpage opened displaying a $10,000 reward for information leading to the return of the stolen paintings featured. As I scrolled through the dozens of magnificent stolen paintings, I choked on my own breath when Kelli Newman appeared captioned, “Stolen, Reported to FBI, July 2008.”
“Braadddd!” My husband rushed over and witnessed the unbelievable-ness appearing on my iPhone. “Our nude painting was stolen!” “Oh my gosh!” “We have to go to the police,” I exclaimed. Completely flustered, the two of us walked up Main Street to the Edgartown Police Station.
We arrived at the Edgartown Police Station a few minutes later and met with Detective Christopher Dolby. Unlike us, Detective Dolby was cool and calm. He carefully reviewed Max Moran’s Stolen Art webpage. When he arrived at a photograph of Max Moran standing next to Robert Whitman, he identified Mr. Whitman and said, “I just read a book written by this guy.” The book, “Priceless,” is a detailed account of Mr. Whitman’s career as an FBI agent working in the FBI’s Art Crime Unit. Detective Dolby then pointed to two postcards tacked on his bulletin board; each one depicted a painting stolen from the Gardner Museum. He had a special interest in art theft.
Detective Dolby made several unsuccessful phone calls to the FBI Art Crime Unit while we were at the police station. When it was clear an answer would not be forthcoming that day, he sent us on our way and promised to follow up.
The next day, Detective Dolby called us with the most unusual news. He had finally spoken to the artist and the proper FBI agent, but the 5-year statue of limitations had expired, so there was nothing he, the police or the FBI could do. Detective Dolby did his best to explain the limitations of the U.S. art theft laws, but the laws seemed unfair and unethical. Since 5 years had passed, I could keep the painting if I wanted to.
While it was perfectly legal for me to keep my beloved painting, was it morally right or ethical? In making my decision, the answer to only one question mattered to me, “was the painting really stolen?” When Detective Dolby replied in the affirmative, my answer was simply, “then Max Moran is getting it back.” Only a person without character or virtue would keep a stolen painting. “Thou shalt not steal,” had been instilled in me as a core value as a young child. In my world, keeping a stolen painting was essentially the same as stealing it.
Upon hearing my commitment to return Kelli Newman, Detective Dolby provided Max Moran’s contact information. I promptly penned an email to Max that detailed the painting’s thrift store provenance, ideas for its return, and last but not least, how much Kelli Newman had meant to me. Within an hour, a delighted and enthusiastic Max Moran called me on my cell phone.
Max and I talked at length, mostly about his on-going, relentless efforts to recover the paintings stolen from him. “These paintings are like my children,” he shared. He was at that time in Ohio attempting to recover a stolen painting donated to a well-known private, non-profit organization. Unfortunately, the organization had its own double-effect type of ethical dilemma. They were unwilling to return the painting for fear of “embarrassing” and damaging the reputation of its high-profile donor.
Max repeatedly offered me compensation for returning Kelli Newman, including painting my portrait or gifting another painting, but I appreciatively and respectfully declined. It didn’t seem morally right to be compensated for doing the right thing. Reuniting Kelli Newman with her rightful owner was compensation enough, and it brought me great joy. Max Moran loved her even more than I did. A virtuous person does the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
If you are like everyone else who has heard this story, perhaps you too want to know what the painting was worth, but does it matter? From a moral and ethical standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the painting were worth the $25 spent or $50,000, it wasn’t mine. For me, the only ethical thing to do was to return it.
Jedediah Hawkins Inn today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience
“With the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor honors hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers,” said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. “This recognition helps travelers identify and book properties that regularly deliver great service. TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travelers feel more confident in their booking decisions.”
The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.
May 2, 2016 11:17 AM
By Virginia Dunleavy email@example.com
Gina and John Binder of Melville married in March 1966 when he was home on leave from Army service in Germany. Photo Credit: Binder family
John and I met in 1953 when we were third-graders at Main Street Elementary School in Farmingdale. I was Gina Westre back then. He was 9 and I was 8.
One day John happened to walk by my house on Grant Avenue. He saw me in the yard and stopped to play. That was the beginning of our life together.
We became good friends and would ride our bikes back and forth between our houses — he lived on Nelson Street — to play with his dog or my two cats. We have a picture of the “hot rod” we built from scraps of wood and old carriage wheels.
In 1955, John’s family moved to Massapequa. We spoke on the phone, exchanged birthday and Christmas cards and occasionally our fathers would drive us to visit each other.
Things changed when he turned 16. On the very day John got his driver’s license he drove straight to my house!
He went to Massapequa High School and I attended Farmingdale High School. Every Friday night we’d stop at E&R pizzeria on Main Street and eat an entire pizza. On weekends we drove around Suffolk County looking at the new model homes and imagined ourselves living in one someday.
After graduating in 1963, I went on to Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and John worked for his father. I missed John, though, and quit college. We got engaged that Christmas. I found a job at Sunrise Federal Savings and Loan in town and took evening courses at SUNY Farmingdale.
In 1965, John was drafted into the Army. He was sent to Stuttgart, Germany, and assigned to the 25th Base Post Office at Robinson Barracks. We wrote daily and began planning our future.
While John was home on leave in March 1966, we had a small wedding on March 26 with just our families in attendance. We honeymooned in Puerto Rico before flying back to Germany, where we lived off base in Botnang, a suburb of Stuttgart. I worked on base as secretary to the chief accountant of the Post Exchange. We were able to visit several other countries while in Europe.
John and I returned home in 1967 after John finished his military service, and we bought a house in Massapequa. We have been blessed with one son and two grandchildren.
John retired in 2003 as a U.S. Postal Service clerk in Melville. I received my master’s degree in secondary education in 1983 and taught at Farmingdale High School until I retired in 2005. We moved to Melville in 2013.
In March, John and I celebrated our 50th anniversary with friends over dinner at Blackstone’s in Melville, then spent a weekend at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport. We discovered we shared our anniversary with Jedediah and his wife, who married in 1862.
— With Virginia Dunleavy
Facebook Post: Introducing one of our new baby chicks taking a stroll on Chuck’s shoulder. Silkies are calm and friendly and grow up to have a lot of fluffy feathers. Name her for a chance to win a $50 gift card.
Because all living animals are miracles and all have a purpose. To have been born and survive the nurturing of her mother it’s all a beautiful miracle and a wonder to witness. Good luck baby Milagro.