Well-known painting of nude woman stolen from Wichita's Candle Club


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WICHITA, Kan. -- It didn't hang in the most glamorous part of Wichita's Candle Club, but the painting that used to be inside the men's restroom there has been an illustrious part of its history.

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, that iconic painting of a nude woman was taken.

"Going into our 54th year to lose a painting like that, the members are quite upset about it," General Manager John Fitzthum.

Members say the painting is just as much part of the lore of the private supper club as the photographs on the wall and the historic circular lighting fixtures on the ceiling.

The painting features a woman who is naked except for a pink hair ribbon and some jewelry. She's at some sort of picnic and next to her is a bottle of Chianti.

Adding to its lore, Fitzthum says they don't know when the club acquired it. It's been there at least since he began going to the club in the 1980's. He thinks that it's been there since the 1970's when it was acquired by Ted Werts, who founded the club in 1960.

Because it is a private club, Fitzthum says it's likely it was taken by one of the 1,300 members or one of their close supper mates.

"Many people are, let's say, pranksters. I've thought that a member was playing a joke and was going to return it," Fitzthum said. "But since it's been two months, I doubt it's a prank."

Fitzthum says the members certainly aren't taking it as a joke and have had plenty of questions like, "Where's the painting? Have you found the painting? Are you commissioning a new painting? What are you doing to replace the painting?

Fitzthum says what they're doing to replace the painting is stepping up their efforts to find the one that was taken.

"We would take it back no questions asked. We are offering a $275 reward," Fitzthum said. "That's our yearly membership fee to the Candle Club."

It's a little irony that Fitzthum hopes will make the difference.

"It's a historic piece of the Candle Club," Fitzthum said. "We'd like to see it back."


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