White Collar Episode "The Portrait" Recap

Season 1, Episode 5 Air Date: November 20, 2009

The Portrait Neal Caffrey and Mozzie are searching Grand Central Station for a message from Kate. Neal feels that it will be something he'd recognize. Neal finds it behind an X that's part of a girder. The message reads "Dear Neal, Heard you're looking for me. Wish I could explain more but time is not on our side. Know that you're my friend, my only lover. You consume my thoughts. Every day I miss you more, but you need to stop looking. No one can deny what we have, but it's over. Please move on. Kate." Neal feels it was a lot for good-bye and Mozzie just thinks Kate's bipolar.

On Monday morning, Peter arrives at Neal's apartment before work. Peter asks Neal what he did over the weekend and Neal says he was at the park. Peter informs Neal that they have to investigate a stolen Haustenberg painting. Neal is surprised that a private individual can afford a Haustenburg.

On the ride (aka Ford Taurus commercial) over to the residence, Peter says the painting was titled "Young Girl with Locket" and worth over 2 million dollars. Peter reveals that he checks Neal's anklet every day and asks him what was so interesting in Grand Central Station. Neal says they have a good oyster bar.

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At the home, a young college student, Julianna, describes coming home from school and finding the robber in the house. Peter asks to see a picture of the painting. As Julianna leaves to get the picture, her uncle Gary arrives. Peter and Neal realize the theft was probably an inside job since the thief knew her schedule and Peter leaves to talk to the uncle while Neal waits for the picture from Julianna.

Outside, Peter tells Neal that Gary lawyered up. All he got is that Gary is a stock trader on Wall Street. Neal suggests that he talk to Gary alone since he doesn't work with the FBI it wouldn't be illegal. Peter reluctantly agrees.

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Next, Neal is seen leaning against Gary's car door reading a newspaper. He asks Gary if Julianna knows he helped steal the painting. Gary tells him his lawyer told him not to talk to the FBI and Neal asks him if he looks like an FBI agent… Gary assumes that Neal is with the man that he owes money to. Neal doesn't correct him and says that the man wants a partial payment since Julianna's arrival home has made the painting too hot to sell. Gary gives Neal a check for ten thousand. The check is made out to Gerard Dorsett.

Peter recognizes the name and assigns Jones to tail Dorsett. Dorsett goes to every high-end gallery offering them the painting. Dorsett is a high-end loan shark and French ex-patriot. He's known for making a lot of destruction when people are late on their payments. Peter informs Neal that he gets to meet Dorsett tomorrow. Taryn Vandersant, a buyer at the Lambert Gallery, has arranged a meeting with Dorsett to buy the painting. Neal is going to pose as her wealthy client.

Back at his apartment, Neal is re-reading the note Kate left him. He tries folding it different ways and finally comes up with the message "Here. Friday. Noon."

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At the gallery, Neal and Peter disagree on what constitutes "art" as the FBI agents set up the gallery for surveillance. Taryn comes in and tells Neal it's time for them to get wired. As the two adjust their microphones, Taryn asks Neal if he's tempted by the $100,000 they have been given to buy the painting. She reveals that Peter warned her that Neal would deflect about his past and that she knows he escaped prison for a girl. Neal tells her it's all true.

Dorsett arrives and Taryn begins authenticating the painting. When Dorsett goes to close the door, he notices two people signaling each other and suspects something is up. Dorsett and his bodyguard draw guns and run off with the money and the painting. Peter and the FBI arrive. Peter has the FBI arrest Taryn and Neal to keep their covers.

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Later, Peter and Elizabeth are walking down the street. Peter tells her that they have started an administrative inquiry since he lost the $100,000 but that everything will be fine once he recovers the money. Peter is confused why Neal would flirt with Taryn when he is obsessed with finding Kate. Elizabeth tells him that flirting is just who Neal is. She suggests that he encourage it because it might help Neal get over Kate.

Back at FBI headquarters, a curator from the Channing Museum has arrived. He claims that the Haustenburg painting was stolen in 1967 from his museum. Peter wonders why it is not listed on the Art Loss Registry. The curator says it was stolen before the Registry was established. Neal tells him he could have re-filed the claim to get it on the Registry.

Peter brings Julianna into the office to ask her about the painting. Julianna tells them that her Grandmother brought the painting with her to America after the war. Peter leaves and Neal tells Julianna he knows her grandmother stole the painting because it wasn't insured. He wants to know why she stole it. Julianna holds up a locket and Neal recognizes it from the painting. He realizes that the girl in the painting is Julianna's grandmother.

Neal doesn't tell Peter what Julianna revealed to him when he meets him outside the office. Peter asks him what he thinks Dorsett is doing. Neal says he's laying low. Peter remembers that Dorsett mentioned a girlfriend and wonders if they can find her. Neal suggests he and Peter stake out the Brigitte staying at the Dansevort.

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Outside the Dansevort, Peter and Neal are fussing at each other in the car. Finally, Peter lets Neal go to a nearby restaurant. While there, Neal overhears two girls speaking French and goes over to introduce himself. He then brings over the two girls to Peter's car and tells Peter that it is Brigitte and her friend. She's invited them back to her hotel room. Neal suggests it is a good way to check out the room for the money and the painting.

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The girls and Neal dance into the hotel room dragging a reluctant Peter behind them. The girls disappear into the bedroom. When they return, Brigitte locks the door behind her. Neal realizes that there is something in there and conspires to get inside. He lifts the key from her and goes into the bathroom to the bedroom leaving Peter trying to entertain the two girls. Neal finds the painting hidden in the bedroom.

Later, Dorsett arrives back at the hotel. The two girls are passed out on the bed. He checks on the painting only to find an origami butterfly in place of the painting.

Elsewhere, Peter and Neal are walking along the street. Peter is trying to decide what to tell Elizabeth about last night. While they are talking, Jones calls to tell him that Dorsett, the money and the painting are gone. Neal doesn't tell him that he has the painting.

Back at home, Peter tells Elizabeth that Dorsett's disappearance is bad and that if he doesn't find him Neal will be sent back to prison. Elizabeth asks if he thinks Neal stole the painting. Peter says he does.

Meanwhile, Dorsett has tracked Neal down. He tells Neal that if he doesn't get the painting back he'll go after Taryn. Mozzie comes over. Neal tells him that he stole the painting to give it to Julianna. The painting was inscribed to her grandmother and the curator at the Channing chose to ignore it. Now Taryn is in danger and doesn't know what to do…

So Neal goes to Peter. He admits he stole the painting and suggests they use it to catch Dorsett. Neal leaves and Peter opens up an FBI file. Inside is the origami butterfly that Neal left in place of the painting. Elizabeth tells Peter that Neal is starting to tell the truth, even if it was only because they threatened Taryn.

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Back at his apartment, Neal is working on making a copy of the painting. Mozzie says the copy might fool a tourist but the curator is not going to be fooled. Neal agrees.

Neal arrives at the drop site. Dorsett and his bodyguard arrive. Within moments the FBI surround them and arrests them.

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Later, Neal is visiting Julianna. She tells him that her grandmother is the illegitimate daughter of Haustenburg. When he died, he willed the painting to her grandmother but the Channing chose to ignore his will. Julianna asks Neal how he knows that the curator won't try and take it back. Neal assures her that in order to do that the curator will have to explain why he went against Haustenberg's wishes.

Meanwhile, back at FBI headquarters, the curator from the Channing is authenticating the painting. He doesn't say anything until he turns the painting over. In place of the original message where Haustenburg dedicated the painting to his daughter, Neal wrote "My Dearest Walter, I know what you saw here last time. NC." Realize he's been caught the curator announces that the painting is authentic.

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On Friday, Neal is waiting at Central Station for Kate. Mozzie arrives. Nearby, a pay phone rings. It is Kate. She asks him where he hid everything: the money, the art, the bonds. The man with the ring wants something Neal hid. If Neal gives it to him she can come back to him. She says she wants to come home. Neal refuses to tell her because he feels it is the only leverage he has. Neal sets the phone down to go up to where Kate is, but she is gone.

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