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Gal Gadot turns to art crime, with The Rock in hot pursuit

21 November 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

If you have always wanted to see Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson run through a gallery of classical sculpture, then Red Notice is the film for you. As John Hartley, a FBI profiler who specialises in art crime, The Rock hurtles through the Castel Sant’Angelo and exposes its prize exhibit, one of the eggs of Cleopatra, pouring a can of Coke over it and dissolving its fake lacquer. But if this gilded treasure – one of three – seems unfamiliar, that’s understandable. The famed eggs of Cleopatra, given to her by Mark Antony on their wedding day, are as fake in our reality as the egg our profiler exposes as a sham. Taking the mantra that you should set a thief to catch a thief Hartley teams up with ‘the second most wanted art thief in the world’, played by Ryan Reynolds, to corner Gal Gadot, ‘the most wanted art thief in the world’. Cue international travel, bad jokes and fight scenes that take place too close to glass display cases.

Lady with a Red Hat (1918), William Strang. Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

Lady with a Red Hat (1918), William Strang. Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

Perhaps most puzzling of all, however, are the eggs themselves. With a reported budget of $200m, Red Notice is Netflix’s most expensive production to date, and it’s impossible to see where the money went. The three eggs look like a cross between a poor imitation of a Fabergé egg and something about to hatch a dragon for Daenerys Targaryen. And Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery might be wondering why Ryan Reynolds is described as having stolen William Strang’s Lady with a Red Hat (1918) from the Tate, when the painting has been in its collection since 1919.

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