In the April 15, 2006, newsletter, I wrote a brief article mentioning the death of 62-year-old William M.V. Kingsland, a prodigious researcher and genealogist. He was well-known in genealogy circles. He was also known for his upper class manners and encyclopedic knowledge of Manhattan architecture. In his obituary in the New York Sun, one friend said Kingsland "was slightly annoyed that the 20th century had occurred." It seems that Mr. Kingsland also kept a few mysteries as well.
William Kingsland had an extensive art collection. He died without living heirs or a will; so, the city of New York confiscated his belongings and distributed them for sale through several auction houses. Two dealers purchased paintings and then discovered that they had been stolen from Harvard University more than 30 years ago. One was a 1790 portrait by John Singleton Copley. The other was a portrait of former Harvard President John Thornton Kirkland, either by, or copied from, famed 19th-century painter Gilbert Stuart.
How Kingsland came into possession of Harvard property remains unclear. He could have unwittingly purchased the paintings from the thief.
You can read more about this story at http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/10/22/harvard_to_retrieve_2_stolen_paintings