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Seen This Painting? Drop a Dime

Agatha Christie could have written this one, except she didn’t. It’s a real-life mystery centering on the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College—a cold case file involving a stolen work of art, Interior With Figures Smoking and Drinking, by Jan Baptist Lambrechts.

On a wintry night in 1975, someone broke into the Mead and stole three paintings: The Interior of the New Church, Delft by Hendrick van Vliet, St. John the Baptist by Pieter Lastman, and Lambrechts’ Interior with Figures Smoking and Drinking (pictured). The person who later claimed responsibility said he started out with a plan to rob a bank, but on impulse stole the paintings instead.

The van Vliet and the Lastman were recovered in 1989 after being offered as collateral in a drug deal in Illinois, but the Lambrechts is still out there somewhere.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team is now taking up the case and wants any information anyone might have that bears on the theft. The FBI can be reached at (617) 742-5533, or information can be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

By Stephanie Kraft


Remember the Ladies

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which was born of the Socialist movement in the early 20th century and over the years has evolved into a global celebration.

In the Valley, enthusiasm for the event is so big that it can’t be contained to one day. Local International Women’s Day celebrations include:

• On Friday, March 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Springfield’s Women’s Commission hosts a brunch at the Barney Carriage House in Forest Park. New England Book Award-winning author Suzanne Strempek Shea, whose works include novels, memoirs and the forthcoming This Is Paradise, about the founder of a health clinic in Malawi, will be the guest speaker. For more information, call commission chair Kateri Walsh at 413-787-6170 or email Kwalsh@springfieldcityhall.com.

• That afternoon, at 4:30 p.m., the International Women’s Day Committee of the Pioneer Valley will hold a “Stand Out for Women” rally at the rail trail bridge in downtown Northampton.

• Then later, at 7 p.m., the committee will host a screening of Iron Jawed Angels, a 2004 HBO movie about the American suffrage movement, at the International Language Institute, 1725 New South St., Northampton.

• And women’s history trivia games will be held at several spots around the Valley: on Wednesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at Popcorn Noir, 20-32 Cottage St., Easthampton; on Saturday, March 8, at 3 p.m. at The Harp, 163 Sunderland Rd., Amherst; and on Tuesday, March 11, at Packard’s, 14 Masonic St., Northampton.


By the Numbers:

$8.45 billion:

That’s the amount the U.S. will spend this year for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, recently described on 60 Minutes as “the Pentagon’s newest warplane and its most expensive weapons system ever.”

Fifty thousand elementary school teachers; health care for 500,000 kids and 20,000 veterans; and 1 million household solar electricity systems: that’s what else that money could fund, with $2.3 billion remaining.

The data comes Northampton’s National Priorities Project, which analyzes defense and other federal spending. NPP’s work–which includes interactive tools on its website, http://www.nationalpriorities.org, that allow users to see where their tax dollars are going and how else they could be spent—has earned it a nomination for a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Other nominees include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai. The winner will be announced in October.


$728.3 million:

That’s the amount of financial aid, including grants and loans, distributed to students at UMass in this academic year. That’s more than twice as much as the university disbursed in 2005 ($346 million). Because of a $40 million increase in state funding for this year, UMass officials were able to keep tuition and fees for in-state students at 2012-2013 levels, so the average cost of attending was $25,855—about $1,500 less than the cost of attending other public colleges and $33,000 less than students pay at private colleges. To help hold the line on costs to students, the university is asking the state for another increase in funding for the next academic year.


$6.5 million:

That’s the “handle,” or amount bet on races, at the Suffolk Downs racetrack in 2012, down from $27.6 million in 2000.


$26.4 million:

Operating losses experienced by Suffolk Downs in 2011, up from $11.8 million in 2007.

Across the country, horse racing has fallen on hard times; the reason is believed to be competition from gambling operations and state lotteries. The falloff in betting has pushed racetrack operators in Massachusetts to align their fortunes with those of the gaming industry by trying to bring gaming facilities—casinos and slots parlors—to their properties. The Massachusetts law that enabled casinos requires that if a racetrack is awarded a gaming license, a percentage of the proceeds from gaming be paid in to increase the purses for the track. The concept of linking casinos to racetracks has also been tried out in New York state and Pennsylvania, with mixed results.


Worth Quoting:

“I’d like to have another opportunity to serve. I believe in service. I enjoy it. I also like coming and going, you know, because I think that my private sector life has contributed to how I think about public sector challenges and what I do in the public sector.”

—Gov. Deval Patrick, in answer to a question at last week’s governor’s conference in Washington about a possible run for President

Author: Advocate staff

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