Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe:
Nearly a year had passed since the bombings, and the sisters were still being force-fed, when the case took a bizarre turn. In February 1974, a seventeenth-century painting by Vermeer, of a young girl plucking a narrow guitar, was stolen from a museum in Hampstead. A pair of anonymous typewritten letters arrived at The Times of London, demanding that Dolours and Marian Price be returned to Northern Ireland and threatening that if they weren’t, the painting would “be burnt on St. Patrick’s night with much cavorting about in the true lunatic fashion.” As proof that this threat was sincere, one of the letters contained a sliver of canvas from the Vermeer. In a strange coincidence, on a trip to London two years earlier, Dolours had visited Kenwood House, where the Vermeer hung—and had stopped to look at that very painting. In a statement, Chrissie Price appealed to whoever it was that took the artwork to return it unharmed. She noted that Dolours—“who is an art student”—had made a special plea on behalf of the painting.
One evening in May, a suspicious package appeared in a churchyard near Smithfield Market, in London. It was wrapped in newspaper and tied with string. A squad of officers arrived at the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. In this atmosphere of heightened tension, the package could be a bomb. But it wasn’t: it was the painting, which had been returned, just as Dolours had requested.