#40 – Then More Complications – 1987

Written by Virginia Hourigan:

One day in March of 1987 I found myself in the Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, for the first time in years – the Mid-Manhattan Branch is where they keep the books I usually want – and as I sat on a stool bending over a pile of rare books, a pudgy, fortyish man right at my elbow spoke my name. I jumped. Then I realized it was Bart Jordan from New Hampshire, just the man I wanted to see. I knew he’d have something interesting to say about the cave stones. But what was he doing here?

I’d met Bart three or four years earlier at Jim Whittall’s house after one of the Early Sites meetings. He talked for a long time about his research with ancient sites and artifacts in relation to Pythagorean numbers and proportions. He drew diagrams, talked fast, and jumped from one thing to another in a bewildering fashion, but I couldn’t help thinking he was on to something if only I could get a handle on it. I hadn’t seen him since, nor had I met any one else doing quite that sort of research.

In the light of what happened later, I’ve wondered if our meeting in the library was really the coincidence it seemed.

“Hey, Bart! It’s good to see you. Too bad you weren’t at the Early Sites meeting – I had some slides there that you’d have found interesting.” I raved on about the cave and the stones until I suddenly realized he already knew about them.

“How did you hear about it?” I asked him.

“Someone who was at the meeting told me.”

“Oh! Who was it?” I knew almost everyone there. But he wouldn’t say.

As we chatted, a few things were going through my mind. Bart is not blind, but he has to wear two pair of glasses and almost touch them with the page to read, and he uses a cane to test for the curb so he won’t trip on it. I couldn’t believe he’d recognize me even if he sat next to me, and I didn’t think I’d recognize him either, because he doesn’t even live in New York so I wouldn’t expect to see him.

“But how did you recognize me?”

“I was with someone who pointed you out.”

Bart is a musician too, a classical guitarist, so it wasn’t unlikely that we knew some of the same people, but how would one of them know he was interested in talking to me? And why wouldn’t a mutual acquaintance come over and say hello, too?

Well, Bart’s story was that he was with a woman who had been at a meeting and heard my presentation, recognized me at the library, pointed him in the right direction, and disappeared. He wouldn’t say who she was. Pretty strange, I thought.

He was avid to see the pictures and we met late that night at a restaurant – in fact we stayed until the first one closed, went to another, and then a third, and stayed till that one closed in the small hours of the morning. Bart certainly didn’t think the stones were fakes. He pointed out things on them that could only have been made by someone familiar with the ancient knowledge. He asked to borrow a few pictures until the next day so as to look at them with a larger magnifier, and I said, “Of course.”

Next day he returned them, pointed out some exciting finds relating to the forgotten knowledge of numbers and symbolism and said these particular stones, at least, must have been carved at least 600 years ago. I really wanted to know about this and I tried to pin him down, but as before, he talked fast and jumped from one thing to another and I just couldn’t get a handle on it. I had taken a tape recorder to the restaurant, so I put it on the table between us, told him about it in case he hadn’t noticed, and tried to keep him on the subject while the recorder was on. Instead he mostly complained about other people who stole his research and published it as their own, and got it wrong. After awhile I gave up and turned off the recorder. He asked to borrow one of the stones, an ushabti, to make some detailed measurements, and to borrow the whole album of pictures for a few days.

He returned the album on time and had some interesting things to say about the pictures, though I wasn’t very happy when he said he’d taken them to show some acquaintances who were professors at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. They had pronounced the artifacts fakes, of course. I was hoping hostile people wouldn’t find out about it and make public denouncements of the cave before anyone could do a serious study of it. Bart didn’t see any problem. He would call and talk for hours on the phone, telling me a lot of things about himself that might be true or might not, but I couldn’t keep him on the subject of the stones no matter how hard I tried.

On Sunday Bart invited me to dinner in a restaurant with his girlfriend, Robin, a busy professional violinist, asking me to bring along the pictures. (It turned out that he didn’t have to pay because an orchestra conductor she knew was also having dinner there and insisted on picking up the check.) Bart borrowed the pictures again to show Robin, telling her as we left, “Wait till you see these. You’ve never seen anything like this in your life!” A lot more enthusiasm then he’d ever let me see. I guess he wanted me to think he was interested in them.

I didn’t hear any more from him for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t worry as I didn’t need the pictures. Then someone called for some information, so I called Robin to reach Bart and get the pictures back.

“Oh, Bart’s not here, he’s in Europe.”

“Europe! Well, he didn’t take that heavy picture album with him, surely?”

“No, your pictures are here.”

“Okay, no problem. When can I get them from you?”

“Ah – um – well, I don’t have them. But Bart’s going to call me on Wednesday and I’ll find out how to get them.”

“But that’s nearly a week away. Where are they?”

“Uh – I’m not sure. I think they’re with a friend of his in New Jersey.”

Now I was getting worried. “You think? Don’t you know? Can’t you call this person and have him bring them back?”

“Er – no, I can’t. But don’t worry, Bart will fix everything up.”

“Well, can’t you reach him then? I need the pictures.”

“Ah-er – no, he’s traveling and I don’t know where he is. But he might call me sooner then Wednesday, and I’ll speak to him about it then.”

“But, why on earth didn’t he return them to me if he was going to be away? Why would he lend them to someone else without telling me?”

“I really don’t know.”

There was nothing I could do. Bart called Robin from Paris on Wednesday and gave her the friend’s phone number, she called him and he brought the pictures to town on Friday. She met me with them on Saturday, and that’s when I found out she hadn’t even known the friend’s name.

On Sunday Bart called me from Toronto. He insisted Robin knew perfectly well who the friend was and the phone number. Bart’s story was that he’d had his friend put the pictures in his vault for safe-keeping in case of a fire. Two preposterous stories, and I couldn’t figure out if he really thought me so stupid as to believe them, or if he enjoyed telling stories and didn’t care whether I believed them or not. He also said he’d met with some French archaeologists who had a new method of dating stone carving and he’d left my ushabti with them. They were extremely interested, he said, and would make a report and return the ushabti very soon. He wouldn’t name them. Rage was pointless – I could do nothing about this either.

All winter (1987) I’d carried a grudge against Russell for standing me up that last day in Vincennes, so I hadn’t written or phoned even once. (I didn’t know him that well anyway.) However, it was May by this time so I wrote a report to Jack, Russell and Norman (a courtly, but somewhat dotty old gentleman, the third member of the partnership) on my various efforts to find out what the stones were all about. The reply really shook me up. It was a nasty letter signed by all three blaming me for the fact that some people were crying fake.


Showing people pictures of a few items or even many items from the cave without them seeing the cave or knowing the circumstances immediately conjures up ideas of fake or fraud in many people if these items are unfamiliar to them. It’s like showing them some hair and asking what animal it came from. Few people are patient enough or thorough enough to run the gamut of further investigation. They will often form their opinion, for what it’s worth, on what they see. Far better to have them see the cave first – but who do you trust? It all takes time. Maybe the approach of MRD Associates was backwards, but there seemed to be no choice.

(VH resumes):

They threatened a lawsuit if I didn’t immediately stop doing… whatever it was they thought I was doing. They didn’t say what. “I have spoken to my lawyers” the letter read – it appeared to be Russell talking – “And they are ready to go ahead.”

This was outrageous. I wrote back that this was pretty poor thanks for all the time, effort and money I had spent for their cave and their stones. They had nothing to sue me for, I said, and if they did I would sue them back for harassment. I heard no more about it.

This unpleasantness didn’t keep me from making plans to visit Vincennes in June on my way to a dig in Arkansas. Coincidentally, the Warrens were planning to leave the same day, Monday, June 15. We agreed to meet in Vincennes on Wednesday afternoon. Robin had a job playing in the Santa Fe Opera for the summer, and Bart, who came back to New York from Toronto all sweetness and light, said he was going to play lute on stage in some of the opera performances.

Even more coincidentally, they were going to leave for Santa Fe the very same day in a car borrowed from someone Robin knew in New Jersey, and they would also arrive in Vincennes on Wednesday.

Now you’d think I’d have become a little smarter about Bart’s habits by this time, but I still didn’t really believe what my head told me. When he came back to New York he asked to borrow the tapes I’d made in Vincennes in 1986 just for a day. When we met the next day he asked to keep them a few days more because he hadn’t had time to finish, and said he’d give them to me when he took me to lunch on Tuesday.

On Tuesday he and Robin appeared at my apartment building, but before we went anywhere he demanded that I go upstairs to get the tape I’d made of our conversation in the restaurant that day and erase it where he could see me do it, at lunch. I refused. I was annoyed. I said it was mixed up with a lot of other tapes and I couldn’t find it quickly. Robin glared at me.

“It’s not me,” Bart said, “I wouldn’t care, but I just spoke to my agent and he insists that I get the tape and erase it.”

“I don’t believe you. Why should he care? If you want me to erase the tape I will, but you can bloody well trust me to do it. I don’t need any lunch anyway! Just give me my tapes and we’ll forget the lunch.”


He had decided not to return my tapes if I didn’t do what he wanted. His gall left me speechless. He was adamant. Robin said I’d better do it or else. I knew what this was really about: he was afraid I was going to steal his research – even though there was nothing worthwhile on the tape. He thought everyone was as devious as himself. We argued. Outraged that he really thought I would do such a thing, I continued to refuse.

Finally he decided to trust me to erase the tape. He threatened dire consequences if I published any of his research. (By now the cards were on the table.) Robin set her jaw and fixed me with a beady eye.

“You’d better watch out,” she snarled. “If you ever use anything from that tape you’ll be in big trouble.”

We went to lunch and talked of other things as if nothing had happened. When we were ready to leave, Bart asked sweetly if he could keep the tapes a few more days. He would meet me Saturday and return them, he said. Deep down I knew if I said no, I want them now, he would refuse to hand them over. And if we had a confrontation he might not give them back at all. I’d never see Jack’s ushabti again, either.

I was rushing frantically to pack up, pay the bills, and do all the things necessary so I could leave for the summer on Monday. I hadn’t a minute to spare and I was angry at having to play these little games to get my property back. Bart and Robin were rushing just as frantically for the same purpose, and Bart had growled to me on the phone that he’d found out something was wrong with the car, and they would have to go to New Jersey and get it fixed on Monday morning before they could leave.

Robin was playing a ballet performance at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Saturday evening, and Bart said he would meet me with the tapes at the stage entrance afterwards. Unfortunately for me, there were two ballet companies performing there that evening, and I waited at the wrong one until too late. I don’t know to this day if he was deliberately vague and I fell into his trap, or if he really meant to return the tapes. In any case, he called right after I got back home and chewed me out for not being there. He was a stranger in town, he said, but I should have know there were two ballet performances.

“All right, all right!” I snapped. “I’ve got forty thousand things to do tomorrow, but I’ll come up to Robin’s place and get my tapes.”

“No, you won’t,” he shouted. “I’m not going to put Robin through that. She’s too busy.’

“Through what? I’ll just knock on the door and you or she can hand me the tapes.”

“No, don’t bother coming up. You won’t get them.”

Darling boy.