Meanwhile, the FBI was turning up the heat and issuing a bulletin to law enforcement agencies throughout the Northeast. Picasso stolen from Logan airport. Be on the search.
Days later, the Waterville ice cream king arrived in Medford with his wife, Ann, a new trench coat, and a plan. He rubbed the paint’s packaging and box with Vaseline, for reasons that eluded his son. He attached the handwritten note. He changed into his trench coat, a wide-brimmed hat, and gloves. Go on time.
Three years after this escapade, Whitcomb Rummel would die, suddenly, at the age of 63; in his honor, his restaurant would remain closed until the ice cream rush. His son Bill would spend the next 30 years with Emery, rising to regional manager before retiring to South Carolina and dying, aged 71, in 2015.
But on this April Fool’s Day in Boston in 1969, father and son shared an unforgettable moment: loading a stolen Picasso into a Chevy Impala.
Bill Rummel, wearing a black watch cap and sunglasses, drove them to Boston and, following his father’s instructions, parked on Huntington Avenue. His father got out and carried the box a few cars ahead.
Old Rummel loaded the painting into a cab, handed the driver a $20 bill, and told him to take the package to the Museum of Fine Arts, just down the road. He returned to his son’s car and, on the drive back to Medford, he tossed the coat, hat and gloves into separate trash cans.