On a Stolen Masterpiece

Alexis Pulaski was a wealthy Russian emigree who left his native land when the communists took over in the late 1910s. Pulaski cultivated the image of a member of the Russian nobility, and he never corrected anyone who referred to him as “Count” Pulaski. In any case, he managed to keep a goodly portion of his Russian fortune and take it with him to New York City, setting up shop there and producing, for lack of a better term, masterworks. Some of Pulaski’s creations sold for a good deal of money. There was one creation, however, one special creation that Alexis Pulaski had managed to produce with care and precision, He labeled this product his Masterpiece. Pulaski’s Masterpiece was, to him, literally priceless.

The Aga Khan offered tens of thousands of dollars for Pulaski’s Masterpiece, but the Russian told him and all other would-be buyers, effectively, “No sale!” On the other hand, Pulaski did often offer to display his Masterpiece for a small fee. You could come and look at Pulaski’s Masterpiece for a few moments, appreciate the beauty and composition, and then politely be ushered out of the room. To be in the presence of Pulaski’s Masterpiece, it would set you back a minimum of $500, and this was during a time that $500 was more than several month’s salary for most people. Over the years, Pulaski made a small fortune charging people to come to his salon and showing off his Masterpiece to his high-society and appreciative viewers. He would stage his Masterpiece in an expensive frame, carefully putting low lighting on the subject so to affect even more drama for his paying customers.

Now, for some folks, $500 was too high a price to pay to see something that was only 9″ in size. For others, no price was too high to be in the presence of Pulaski’s Masterpiece. The people who came far and wide to observe were quick to notice the beauty, the grace, the perfect proportions of Pulaski’s Masterpiece.

One day in May, 1953, someone came into Alexis Pulaski’s salon in the Upper East Side of New York and walked out with Pulaski’s Masterpiece. Pulaski reported it missing at 1:35pm to the police. “I don’t understand it,” Pulaski told reporters who hustled to the scene. “It’s like stealing the Hope Diamond. The whole world knows my Masterpiece. There is nowhere a thief can hide.”

A large reward was put out for the return of the stolen Masterpiece. Alas, there were no leads, and this was in the days before video surveillance cameras were in operation. The only possible clue might have been a lady with a red coat and a fur boa who was witnessed leaving Pulaski’s place about the time he noticed his beloved Masterpiece missing.

Sadly, Alexis Pulaski would never see his wonderful and perfect Masterpiece again.

“Why would anybody steal my Masterpiece?” Pulaski wondered in an interview some years later. “A dog like that cannot be replaced.”


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