When a Matisse painting is stolen from a museum, the finger is pointed at an assistant in the museum whose boyfriend is an artist as well as his estranged wife. The wife tries to blackmail the museum owner but is murdered after a fight.
At the Harkens Gallery, Sylvester Robey wishes to see Richard Harkens about a Matisse hanging in the gallery. Amelia Harkens, Richard's mother who owns the gallery, is incensed to see that the painting is a forgery and blames Richard's assistant, June Sinclair, and master copyist David Lambert of collusion. June and David are in love and ask Perry Mason to intercede with Amelia. David quarrels with his wife Liza, who paints cherubs, over their impending divorce and whether he should also paint commercially viable cherubs. Liza tries to extort money from Amelia in return for the genuine Matisse. Later, June confronts Liza and they struggle until Liza pulls a gun and forces June to retreat. As she leaves, June hears Liza scream and shots fired. She finds Liza dead, calls Perry Mason and flees the scene. Perry discovers Liza's body, the police arrive, and Perry clams up until he can talk to his client. June is arrested and Perry has to go to work.Written by
***SPOILERS*** Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, not only gets his client June Sinclair, Mala Powers, off on a murder charge but also makes a killing, a legal one, in the art world. That's at an auction where Perry bought a what at first looked like a worthless painting for a cool $26,000.00 that in reality turned out to be a masterpiece, after the paint was washed off, worth almost ten times as much! As for the murder that his client June Sinclair was on trial for it turned out that her supposed victim Liza Carson Lambert, Carmen Phillips, was in fact involved in the painting heist that turned deadly, for her, in stiffing her partner in crime of his share of the loot! He got only $1,000.00 while Liza before she was murdered was to get almost 200, that's about $200,000.00, times as much.
This is a case of not only murder for profit but greed stupidity and a series of double-crosses among those involved who just couldn't get anything right that made it so easy for Perry to solve. It was June's boyfriend painter of the classics, so he can sell them as it they were genuine, David Lambert, Joe Mross, who at first gets railroader for the crime in murdering his estrange wife Liza. That's until his now lover June who in fact was at the scene of Liza's murder, moments before she was murdered, ended up getting indited for it. This set the stage for Perry to uncover the person who really murdered her at June's trial who's greed, after he was home free, got the best of him.
Perry Mason did his usual sleep walking act going through the motions in exposing Liza's killer as if he was a mind reader in getting the person to admit his crime on the stand without really having any evidence if he did it. The evidence was so flimsy that if it went to a jury it would have been thrown out before even being deliberate on. But by Liza's killer admitting his guilt and also implicating her in the crime of stealing the missing painting,and holding it for a $25,000.00 ransom, it made Perry's job that much easier.
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