The art world lost a legend on February 22nd, 2021. Although famous for his 1994 recovery of Munch’s The Scream, retired detective Charles Hill said, “My greatest thrill was finding Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid, which was stolen from Russborough House in 1986…”[Source: Country Life Magazine| March 16, 2009]
“If Prince Valiant and Philip Marlowe shared custody of a single body,’ says Edward Dolnick, who wrote Stealing the Scream, ‘the result might resemble Charley.’” [Source: Country Life Magazine| March 16, 2009]
Tributes from the Art Recovery World
“His friends called him Charley, never Charles and certainly not Charlie.”Lynda Albertson
Charles Hill developed an alter-ego for his undercover work, assuming the character Chris Roberts during his 1994 recovery of Munch’s The Scream.
“The character I came up with was Chris Roberts, was a slightly dodgy, mid-Atlantic accented art dealer who was doing some buying for the Getty Museum in Europe,” said Hill.
This was not the first time Hill took on the persona of Chris Roberts. In a Country Life Magazine from March, 2009, Hill explained that sometime in 1983 he, “…put on a mid-Atlantic accent and posed as an art dealer who had Arab buyers lined up for the Vermeer. (i.e. Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid)