There's an update on the intriguing story of William Milliken Vanderbilt Kingsland, "a threadbare eccentric and an amateur genealogist of the Upper East Side" who died in 2006, only to leave behind a world of confusion. To sum up this UES Man of Mystery, the NY Times explains upon his death "it was discovered that his birth name was Melvyn Kohn, that he resided not on Fifth Avenue but in a small apartment on East 72nd Street, and that he had not — counter to his claims — attended Groton or Harvard, nor had he once been married to a French royal." However, along with the confusion came hundreds of works of art and no will.
Enter the FBI, who declared some of it to be stolen works of art, and have now posted a listing of the 137 pieces they have been unable to place. The pieces, some of which Kingsland may have purchased, range in value from $1,000 to well over $1 million--like a bust by Giacometti. Most of the extremely valuable pieces were already discovered to be stolen or to have questionable provenance, and if the FBI reaches a dead end (many were stolen in the 60s and some owners may have died since), they will be auctioned off with the money going to Kingsland's estate. Surprise, surprise--some family members have come out of the woodwork declaring themselves the rightful heirs.
You can view the FBI's entire listing here; the FBI explained, "Because of the overwhelming size of the collection, we decided the best and expeditious course of action was to publicize the art work to the general public." If this story sounds familiar, you may recall that last year the Department of Investigations discovered a moving contractor stole Picasso drawings from the already deceased Kingsland's apartment and tried to sell them!