|The laws of
nature are sometimes less severe than those made by man. At
that time I was at the mercy of a little student from Nigeria
as I had been at the mercy of a little Austrian girl a few
My paintings were almost certainly lost
for good and I was in the painful process of getting used
to the idea when, one afternoon, a telephone call out of the
blue gave me renewed hope. I believe in such magical coincidence.
A comrade from prison called,
whom I had not seen since my extradition.
spoke of his upcoming marriage and the jewelry shop
that he and his brother had just opened in a new quarter
of Istanbul. As I prepared to hang up he shouted,"
Hey, Nezir, guess who I saw yesterday?". I
was in no mood for guessing games and told him so. He
asked me if I remembered, a black, a fellow named
Nigerian??. I asked him frantically where
he'd seen him and when. He repeated it was yesterday
in front of the Sultan Ahmet Hotel in old Istanbul.
I couldn't believe my luck. I jumped for joy, checked
the address and ran to the hotel as fast as my legs
could carry me. Robert
had apparently got involved with the drug trade, a typical
phenomenon in prison, and had become an entirely different
I found the hotel
in no time and Robert was in his room. He started as
if he'd seen a ghost. He was convinced that I was still
rotting in jail in Austria. He told me immediately the
exact location of my paintings and belongings. I was
so overwrought that I swore that if we was lying to
me I'd find him and cut both his ears off if it was
the last thing I did! He told me not to worry, that
he could count on his old friend, that the superintendent
of the building was taking good care of the paintings
and that he was about to bring down millions in a nice
deal on some "powder".
had not abandoned me! The coincidence became a miracle!
I decided immediately
that, despite the obvious dangers, I had to go back to Vienna
as soon as possible. I had been refused a new passport by
the authorities in Istanbul, I tried Ankara,
the capital. After enormous difficulties and much money spent
on legal costs and bribes, I got the necessary papers together.
Now, however, I no longer had the money for roundtrip bus
fare. I scraped the cash together with small loans from friends
and by selling the last possessions I owned down to my watch
and cigarette lighter. I had to wait another interminable
month for my passport to be validated.