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Art Dekko

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Art Dekko
Dekko

First Appearance:

January 20th, 1980

Known Associates:

Sue Reel
Polly Chrome
Apparatus Connection
Candy (Deceased)

Created By:

Max Allan Collins &
Rick Fletcher

Can Be Found:

Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles Vol. 3

Art Dekko was an art dealer and social climber. He owned an art gallery in the City and had underworld connections. He and his associate Sue Reel arranged for the theft and sale of various stolen artworks.

Dekko had thick dark hair and very low hairline. He had small eyes and large ears. He was somewhat egotistical, and would often make statements referring to himself in the third person that began "Art Dekko didn't get where he is by..."

The Art Racket

Some years previously, Art had lived in Hollywood where he allegedly dealt drugs to show business figures. He was also suspected in the death of a woman named Candy. The authorities were unable to make any charges stick, though, and Dekko re-located to Dick Tracy's city. He opened his art gallery and attempted to insinuate himself into high society. Dekko was involved in several art thefts, including a valuable Cezanne.

Dekko first came to Dick Tracy's attention when he attempted to sell the Cezanne to Diet Smith, who was interested in fine art as an investment. By that time, Dekko had become annoyed about having to use an Apparatus go-between to fence his stolen goods, and he was attempting to sell the painting himself. The Major Crime Squad began to suspect Dekko, and starting working with Johnny Adonis, a police expert in art theft and fraud. Tracy devised a plan to lure Dekko into trying to steal a Picasso that had recently been put on display in a city museum. Tracy convinced Lizz to pose as Jewel Onallit, the reclusive daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate.

Dekko02
Lizz arranged to meet Dekko and expressed an interest in acquiring a Picasso. Dekko planned a party that would provide him with an alibi, allowing him to steal the valuable artwork and sell it to "Jewel". Dekko commissioned the successful artist Polly Chrome to sculpt a dummy in his likeness, which he used to establish his alibi. Dekko arranged a party for many of his high-society friends and associates, including the undercover Lizz. Dekko traditionally showed movies in his private screening room during his parties. Once the film began playing, he placed the dummy in his chair and left his apartment.

Dekko then went to the museum, stole the Picasso and returned home, believing that no one would suspect that he had been gone. Sue Reel had become suspicious of "Jewel" and was jealous of the attention that Dekko was showing her. Sue discovered that "Jewel" was actually Lizz in disguise, and told Dekko after he returned from the heist. Panicking, the two art thieves determined that Lizz would need to be disposed of, along with their stolen artwork. They told their party guests to meet that them at a local disco, and after everyone had left they held Lizz at gunpoint and took her to Dekko's gallery.

Capture and Betrayal

Dekko03
Art and Sue had arranged to meet their Apparatus Connection at the gallery, where he would take the stolen paintings and eliminate Lizz. They had been tracked there by Tracy and his squad. When Sue Reel and the Apparatus operative emerged through the gallery's back door, intending to take Lizz somewhere and kill her, they were promptly apprehended by the police.

Dekko had held back and locked the door on his associates, intending to flee through the front of his gallery. Dick Tracy had entered through the front and called for Dekko to surrender. Dekko turned out the lights, intending to escape or possibly ambush Tracy in the darkness. Tracy, however, had had a night vision sight installed on his pistol. Tracy was able to see Dekko in the darkness and shot him in the leg, disabling him.

Dekko was taken into custody. He protested his innocence, claiming that he had been set up and that Sue Reel was the mastermind behind the thefts. He offered to turn State's Evidence against her, but Tracy doubted the truthfulness of Dekko's claims.

Notes

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  • The name "Art Dekko" is derived from the term "Art Deco", a popular artistic and design movement from the 20th Century.
  • The character model for Art Dekko may have been inspired by Arsene Lupin III, a gentleman thief in a long-running Japanese anime who is a descendant of the classic French anti-hero, Arsene Lupin.

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