Dining With Denise Neil

Iconic nude painting stolen from Wichita's Candle Club; reward offered

The only part of the missing painting we can show youAnyone who’s ever visited the Candle Club men’s room has seen the painting.

A woman wearing nothing but a pink hair ribbon and some jewelry reclines, a jug of Chianti and two goblets resting beside her.

The painting was an acquisition by Ted Werts, the founder of the private supper club at 6135 E. 13th St N. It hung on the wall of the men’s room since at least the late 1970s or early 1980s, said John Fitzhum, the current general manager of the club.

But sometime late on the Friday night before Thanksgiving, the painting disappeared.

Initially, Fitzhum said, he thought it was a prank. Many members over the years have joked that they wanted to steal the painting, he said.

“But now that it’s been two months, I don’t think it’s a prank,” he said.

No one at the club’s front desk noticed anyone leaving with the painting, so Fitzhum theorizes that someone grabbed it, left the restroom through its back entrance and sneaked out through an often-vacant party room.

Longtime members are not amused.

The painting was a piece of Candle Club history and one of its best conversation pieces. Some members are even asking Fitzhum to have a reproduction made.

Fitzhum said he just wants the painting back, no questions asked. He’s even willing to put up a $275 reward, he said.

If he gets it back, he vows, the painting will be affixed to the wall quite solidly.

“People are really angry that it’s gone,” he said. “It’s been there 30 years at least.”

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