Olga is on her own. Her son is in prison, being held on suspicion of having committed what they are calling on television ‘the art theft of the century’. She knows that the accusation is correct. Along with friends, her son Radu stole seven valuable artworks from a museum in Rotterdam, loaded them into a car and drove them to Romania.
In March last year, a college freshman named Maxwell Birnbaum was riding in a van filled with friends from Austin, Tex., to a spring-break rental house in Gulf Shores, Ala. As they neared their destination, the police pulled the van over, citing a faulty taillight. When an officer asked if he could search the vehicle, the driver — a fraternity brother of Mr. Birnbaum’s who quickly regretted his decision — said yes.
For years, Khadija Adam had gone to Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall on Saturdays. She had her hair styled at the Ashley Salon, attended to her mobile-phone at Safaricom, shopped at the Nakumatt supermarket. Sometimes she stopped into the Millionaires Casino. Adam, a former model and a warm, boisterous talker, knew many shop owners by their first names, and always bumped into friends.