Mysteries at the Museum (2010) s10e01 Episode Script

Indestructible Mike, Bubble Trouble, The Penny Man

1 The mystery of Philadelphia's flying blob It was purple.
And it was glowing.
the desperate hunt for a missing masterpiece HULLAND: This was one of the most controversial art thefts ever known.
and New York's indestructible man.
He appeared to be almost superhuman.
WILDMAN: Deep in the vaults of the world's greatest institutions lie extraordinary relics, tales of intrigue and wonder, and secrets waiting to be revealed.
These are the mysteries at the museum.
New York's Hudson Valley is famous for its quaint towns and beautiful forests.
But this idyllic landscape is also home to a dark and sinister institution, the Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
The history of this working prison is preserved iatts very own museum.
Its displays include an arsenal of confiscated weapons and a reconstruction of an inmate's cell that gives visitors a taste of life behind bars.
And among these remedial relics is an ominous contraption that is rhpeaps the museum's most chilling artifact.
KAMIL: It is made out of hardwood.
It has a straight back and straps designed to hold you in place as thousands of volts of electricity flow through your body.
WILDMAN: As tour guide Seth Kamil can attest, this electric chair is linked to an unforgettable tale of greed, determination, and Herculean resilience.
KAMIL: It is an unbelievable story of a man who appeared to be almost indestructible and superhuman.
WILDMAN: 1932 -- New York.
The Great Depression has hit the city hard.
As a result, crime is rife.
Unscrupulous characters everywhere are searching for new and inventive ways to line their pockets.
Among them is bartender Tony Marino.
KAMIL: Tony was essentially a lowlife, and he was constantly scheming and tinryg to come up with the next get-rich-quick idea.
WILDMAN: One day, while chatting with some like-minded friends, he cooks up his most devious plot yet.
They'll trick one of the bar's heavy drinkers into taking out an insurance policy which names the gang as beneficiaries.
Then they'll quietly bump off their mark and collect the cash.
Tony has the perfect mark in mind -- an out-of-work but good-spirited alcoholic named Mike Malloy.
KAMIL: Mike Malloy was the perfect victim.
He would wander in and out of neighborhood bars and just drink himself into a stupor most nights.
WILDMAN: Tony thinks, if he can ply Mike with enough free booze, the lush will simply drink himself to death.
The pay-out would total about $3,500, a tremendous amount of money during the Great Depression.
WILDMAN: In December, Tony and his pals put their dastardly plot in motion.
First, they fool Mike into signing the insurance policy, claiming the document is a petition for a local election.
Then they set about sending him to his grave.
Tony serves Mike one drink and then another and then another.
But the liquor seems to have no effect.
KAMIL: Mike is drinking enough to kill the average person.
[ Chugging ] But he just keeps coming back for more.
WILDMAN: The gang realizes it's gonna take more than just booze to fell the hardened drinker.
So Tony serves him a sandwich of sardines mixed with a secret ingredient, ground-up shards of metal.
KAMIL: Mike happily accepted the free sandwich, ate it and was ready to drink some more.
Nothing was working.
WILDMAN: Tony and his scheming cohorts resort to more drastic measures.
One night, after Mike passes out, they drag him to the middle of a deserted street.
Then they got in their car and drove over him [ Man screams ] and then drove away, completely confident they had finally done away with Mike Malloy.
The gang celebrates their success.
But yet again, it seems their jubilation is premature.
KAMIL: Five days later Mike Malloy walked into the bar and literally said, "I'm dying for a drink.
" Tony and his gang couldn't believe that this man wouldn't die.
WILDMAN: For Tony, it's a big problem.
The longer Mike stays alive, the longer he has to pay the insurance premium.
KAMIL: There was a ticking clock because, without keeping up with the insurance, this whole plan would immediately become worthless.
WILDMAN: Tony decides enough is enough.
Next time, hwie ll make sure that Mike doesn't take another breath.
It was time for Mike Malloy to go.
WILDMAN: They wait until Mike passes out at the bar and then take him to a nearby boarding house.
There, they affix a rubber tube from a gaslight fixture to his mouth.
The gas and the carbon monoxide finally killed him.
WILDMAN: The men convince a corrupt doctor to issue a fake death certificate citing pneumonia as the cause of Mike's demise.
KAMIL: They collect the money and bought themselves all new suits.
WILDMAN: The killers congratulate themselves on what they think is the perfect crime.
But it seems their plan wasn't as foolproof as they thought.
KAMIL: Stories began to circulate about Tony Marino giving away free drinks to Mike Malloy and Tony and his boys all of sudden wearing fancy, new suits.
People were suspicious.
And ultimately, somebody tipped off the police.
WILDMAN: The authorities home in on the insurance policy.
And with their suspicions aroused, they arrange for Mike's body to be exhumed.
KAMIL: They were able to determine that Mike Malloy died of gas poisoning and not pneumonia as it was listed on the death certificate.
WILDMAN: On October 19, 1933, justice is served.
Tony Marino and his conspirators are convicted of the murder of Mike Malloy.
KAMIL: They ended up in Sing Sing prison and, in 1934, were electrocuted in the electric chair Old Sparky.
WILDMAN: Today, this replica of Old Sparky at the Sing Sing Prison Museum recalls the shocking murder of an almost invincible man.
Oracle, Arizona.
This quaint town is situated in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
But nestled in the shadow of these majestic peaks is a structure that looks decidedly otherworldly.
This is Biosphere 2.
Designed to be a microcosm of planet Earth, it contains a tropical forest, a small desert, and even a simulated ocean.
Yet withinhi ts utopian setting is an object which recalls a darker side of the facility's history.
This artifact is about 10 feet long.
It's almost 4 feet wide.
It's made out of one solid piece of granite and is still actually in its original position as it was 25 years ago.
WILDMAN: According to Deputy Director John Adams, this table is linked to a shocking tale of disaster, scandal, and deception.
What began as one of the most ambitious human experiments turned out to be something completely different.
WILDMAN: September 26, 1991 -- Oracle, Arizona.
Reporters from around the world are gathered to witness an extraordinary event -- the unveiling of a unique science experiment known as Biosphere 2.
ADAMS: The reason that it was named Biosphere 2 is because it actually modeled systems after Biosphere 1.
And Biosphere 1 is the Earth itself.
WILDMAN: The experiment is designed to find out if it is possible to recreate an earthlike environment in outer space.
ADAMS: Space colonization captivated the nation.
WILDMAN: The man behind this ambitious project is an engineer named John Allen.
ADAMS: John Allen was able to bring together the engineering and the team that ultimately went inside Biosphere.
WILDMAN: Now, with the eyes of the world watching, four men and four women enter the complex.
The plan is that they will spend 2 years inside the dome without any support from the outside world.
ADAMS: They had a really diverse background.
One of them was a medical doctor.
Another one had very strong engineering background.
Another one had more biological background.
WILDMAN: Shortly after dawn, the doors of Biosphere 2 close, and the grand experiment gets under way.
At first, all seems to be going well.
Journalists watch through the greenhouse-like windows as the four inhabitants go about their business.
But after just a few weeks, things start to go awry.
When the team gathers for meals around their granite dining table, the same one on display at Biosphere 2 today, the reporters notice something alarming.
It appears the inhabitants of the Biosphere are struggling to grow enough food.
In fact, they are starving.
The team has lost a tremendous amount of weight in a relatively short time frame.
WILDMAN: Then life under the dome takes an even darker turn.
While operating a rice-hulling machine, one of the inhabitants accidentally severs part of her finger.
The injury is deemed serious enough to warrant an intervention.
They needed to get some outside assistance.
WILDMAN: The facility's doors are opened, and the injured inhabitant is rushed to the hospital, where she receives the medical attention she needs.
Just a few hours later, she's allowed to re-enter the supposedly closed environment.
But with her is a black duffel bag, something expressly forbidden by the rules of the experiment.
ADAMS: It was speculated that she brought in everything from additional seeds to hamburgers and pizza to wine.
When the press found out and the scientific community found out and, in turn, the public found out about it, Biosphere 2's credibility took a huge hit.
WILDMAN: In the wake of the incident, journalists start to dig deeper into the background of the experiment's enigmatic founder.
ADAMS: They started to take a closer look at the motive of the person who founded the project, John Allen.
WILDMAN: And what they discover will shock the world.
It's 1992 -- Arizona.
A team of scientists is living inside a special research facility supposedly designed to see if humans can colonize another planet.
Its name -- Biosphere 2.
But after a series of mishaps, the press starts to question the real purpose of the experiment.
Journalists investigate the background of Biosphere 2's founder, John Allen.
And what they discover is alarming.
While Allen is indeed a scientist and an engineer, he's also the leader of a shadowy organization called the Synergist movement.
ADAMS: John Allen was an extremely charismatic leader who has a group of people following him.
They are essentially a cult.
WILDMAN: Journalists reveal that many of the Biosphere's inhabitants were chosen from the ranks of Allen's own followers and, in fact, had little or no scientific expertise at all.
Not only that, but it appears that Biosphere 2's true goal wasn't just the colonization of space but something much darker -- to prepare f torhe end of the world.
Allen beevlies that the only way to survive the apocalypse will be in facilities like Biosphere 2.
In light of the scandal, scientists decry the experiment as a farce, and the project is ultimately shut down.
Time Magazine labels it eon of the 100 worst ideas of the century.
But the promise of this unique facility is not forgotten.
ADAMS: People realized that it could now be used as a one-of-a-kind, truly unique resear lchaboratory.
WILDMAN: In 2011, Biosphere 2 is purchased by the University of Arizona.
It is now used as the world's largest earth science laboratory.
Today, this dining table recalls the facility's controversial origins as the utopian dream that was t gooood to be true.
Known for its majestic wooded parks and elegant tree-lined streets, Urbana, Illinois, has won the title of Tree City USA every year since 1976.
And set amid this bucolic landscape is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This world-renowned center of learning houses the Student Life and Culture Archives.
The collection includes a 1921 beanie cap, a vintage varsity jacket, and a 1930s university megaphone.
And among these mementos of college life is one item from 1988 that holds a special place in the hearts of the institution's alumni.
PORGES: It's a rectangular object made of vinyl.
On the front cover, there's a splash of rainbow set against a white background.
And inside are 480 pages of high-gloss paper.
This yearbook chronicles the journeys of thousands of students.
t Buaccording to journalist Seth Porges, one star pupil was in a class all his own.
PORGES: His determination to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem led to a revolutionary new concept.
WILDMAN: June 1987 -- Rochelle, Illinois.
18-year-old high school graduate Mike Hayes has just been accepted at the prestigious University of Illinois.
Mike should behr tilled, but he isn't.
PORGES: Mike had a problem.
He had gotten into college.
But paying for it was another matter altogether.
WILDMAN: Mike calculates that 4 years of tuition, board, and books will cost around $28,000.
His parents don't have that kind of money.
So he needs to earn it.
Mike was a part-time clerk at a drug store, but it only got him a couple thousand dollars.
WILDMAN: Mike's future looks bleak.
Dejected, he takes a trip to Chicago to ask his older brother for help.
It's a journey that will chaeng his life forever.
While walking around the big city, he's struck by an idea.
Mike tended to think outside the box.
He saw crowds of people.
And he thinks to himself, "What if everybody here chipped in one penny?" WILDMAN: Mike realizes that if he could get enough people to donate just one penny to his cause, he might be able to pay for college.
PORGES: People take pennies for granted.
You find them in a couch.
You find them on the street, and you don't even bother to pick them up.
So Mike thought, if you get enough pennies together, suddenly, you're dealing with real money.
WILDMAN: But when Mike does the math, he realizes his grand plan might be harder to pull off than he thought.
In order to raise $28,000, he needs to collect one penny from 2.
8 million people.
He is a kid from a small town.
So the challenge is reaching all of these people when nobody knows who the heck he is.
WILDMAN: So how can Mike coinnvce nearly 3 million strangers to part with their pennies? It's 1987 in Illinois.
Cash-strapped college student Mike Hayes has come up with a novel way to pay his college tuition -- ask the general public to contribute one penny each.
Trouble is that means he'll need 2.
8 million donations.
So can Mike penny-pinch his way to a college degree? Mike realizes that the only way he can reach the millions of people he needs to is through the media.
So he reaches out to a nationally syndicated columnist at the Chicago Tribune named Bob Greene.
PORGES: Bob is amused.
He thinks, "This idea's clever if just a little bit crazy.
" And he agrees to write about it.
WILDMAN: On September 6th, Bob publishes a column entitled, "Mr.
Hayes, Your Penny is in the Mail," and urges readers to donate to Mike's cause.
Mike rents a post office box in his hometown and hopes for the best.
PORGES: He doesn't know that this is gonna work, especially 'cause the postage cost so much more than the penny he's asking for.
WILDMAN: But when Mike checks the mail, he is astounded.
PORGES: The response was overwhelming and beyond what Mike could've ever expected WILDMAN: Mike receives so much mail, postal workers have to come up with a new way to sort it.
PORGES: Over the course of 1 month, 70,000 pieces of mail pour into this P.
This is a small town.
They are not equipped r fothis.
WILDMAN: The post office stacks his letters, making a tower of envelopes that stands 26 feet high.
Mike's gimmick makes national headlines.
Pennies pour in from across the country, netting the cash-strapped kid $29,000.
It's more than enough for Mike to pay for coeglle.
Gives the last thousand to another struggling student.
He also got himself a nickname.
He's known on campus as the Penny Man.
WILDMAN: And that's not Mike's only legacy.
He's considered one of the first to implement a concept that today is relatively commonplace -- crowdfunding.
Mike sort sofaw the future.
He looked at this idea that millions of people could chip in a little bit of money and fund a project.
This is what crowdsourcing is.
And he did this before that word even existed.
WILDMAN: This 1988 yearbook featuring an article about Mike's eccentric idea remains at the Student Life and Culture Archives at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
It recalls a young man whose clever scheme coughed up a lot of loose change.
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, was once home to a booming steel industry.
Today, the town is better known for its thriving art scene.
And at the heart of downtown is an iconic cultalur landmark -- the Colonial Theatre.
Inside, visitors can examine a 35-millimeter film projector or step onto the stage where the great Houdini once performed.
But there is one item here that recalls this theater's most notorious claim to fame.
It's about 3 feet by 5 feet with very lurid colors and very bold lettering.
At the top are the words "indescribable, indestructible.
" And then, you have this large, amorphous mass that has people screaming, panicking, hysterical.
[ People screaming ] It's a very dramatic scene.
WILDMAN: This is a poster for the classic sci-fi flick "The Blob.
" But as author Thomas Keels explains, the inspiration for this bizarre "B" movie is even stranger than fiction.
KEELS: It's a story about this unknown thing atth appeared out of nowhere and had a life of its own.
WILDMAN: It's September 1950, Philadelphia.
Police officers Joe Keenan and John Collins are making their evening rounds.
At first, it seems like any other night.
But suddenly, on a secluded street, they notice something peculiar.
KEELS: They saw this object floating in midair.
It seemed to be about 6 feet in diameter.
It was purple.
And it was glowing.
WILDMAN: The men watch in awe as the orb slowly descends into the abandoned field ahead of them.
They didn't know what to believe.
They were completely stunned.
WILDMAN: The officers radio for backup.
Slowly, they approach the bizarre mass.
KEELS: It emseed to be some sort of large, jelly-like object.
[ Buzzing ] They saw it quivering and pulsating.
At this point, they were beginning to wonder if this thing had a life of its own.
WILDMAN: The officers are so intrigued that one of them actually touches it.
Officer Collins reached down and grabbed the edge of the mass.
And surprisingly enough, this very solid-looking object simply evaporated from his hand.
It looked as though nothing had ever been there.
WILDMAN: Back at base, the officers file a report, and the story is then picked up by the Associated Press.
Before long, public speculation runs wild.
KEELS: People were fascinated.
They were making all sorts of conjectures to try to explain it.
WILDMAN: Some say there is a very simple explanation for what the officers witnessed [ Frogs croaking ] frog spawn.
When a frog is attacked by a predator, it will often lay thousands of unfertilized eggs in one large, slimy mass.
If this mass comes in contact with moist or damp ground, then it will swell up in size before collapsing into a dense, gelatinous goo.
WILDMAN: But this hypothesis only explains part of what the officers saw.
Frog spawn isn't bright purple, and it usually doesn't glow.
WILDMAN: Others have proposed that this phenomenon could have been caused by the activities of Philadelphia's many factories.
KEELS: The area where the goo was discovered is one of the largest industrial districts in the entire northeastern United States.
Some people have suggested that this may be industrial gasses that took a solid form to create this gelatinous mass which then fell from the sky.
WILDMAN: But there is no known chemical reaction that could cause the industrial gasses to solidify in this way.
With these theories discounted, the press and the public home in on the only viable explanation that's left.
KEELS: People really began to wonder if they were dealing with something not of this earth.
It's 1950 in Philadelphia.
A team of police officers has witnessed something extraordinary.
A mysterious purple mass has flown over their heads, landed in a field, only to vanish into thin air.
So what was this gelatinous, glowing globule? With all rational explanations discounted, investigators turn to the only theory that is left.
The gelatinous purple blob was made of a legendary substance known as star jelly.
Star jelly is a centuries-old folk belief that meteors, when they strike the earth, often carry with them this sort of weird jelly that is actually an alien life-form.
WILDMAN: Reports of this supposedly extraterrestrial material date back to the 13th century in Europe and have even cropped up as recently as 1994 in Oakville, Washington.
Ufologists argue that alien star jelly is the only theory that explains all the elements of the police officers' report.
And although we can never know for sure what was behind the strange enuncoter, the events of September 1950 have left their mark on popular culture.
Seven years after the infamous sighting, a Pennsylvania-based production company releases a science-fiction movie.
Its title -- "The Blob.
" The film tells the story of a giant, glowing fiend that terrorizes Philadelphia.
Dave, the theater! There is the classic scene of hundreds of terrified movie fans running out of the movie theater, trying to escape this giant, red goo.
WILDMAN: This pivotal scene was shot in the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville.
And today, this classic movie poster stands as a reminder of the mysterious purple goo that spawned a silver screen classic.
Indio, California,s iknown as the City of Festivals.
Its full calendar of cultural events attracts nearly 1 million visitors each years.
And one of its most famous extravaganzas is the annual Coachella Music Festival.
But those seeking a respite from rock 'n' roll can learn about the area's past at the Coachella Valley History Museum.
On display is a preserved blacksmith shop an antique rail yard fire alarm, and a classroom built in 1909.
But one small, ordinary object tells this area' s most surprising tale.
FRANZ: The artifact is about 2, 2 1/2 feet in length, has a metal latch.
It is made of very good-quality leather.
And over time, it has become lia ttle frayed around the edges, but it definitely gives it more character.
WILDMAN: According to museum representative Gloria Franz, this bag is linked to the little-known story of an amazing idea that saved countless lives.
This invention would become something that we all take for granted.
WILDMAN: 1917 -- Indio, California.
June McCarroll is one of the few female doctors in the Wild West.
Thanks to the advent of one of the era's latest innovations, the automobile, the dedicad tephysician has been able to help patients no matter where they live.
June treated the local settlers and the local Native Americans.
And now she could see her patients with a lot less travel time.
There was no one that s wheouldn't go see that was in need.
WILDMAN: But little does she know, a harrowing drive will take her life-saving work far beyond California.
One fall evening, Dr.
McCarroll is driving back from a house call.
As she motors along a narrow road she suddenly sees an oncoming truck swerving right towards her.
She is terrified.
She has to drive into the sand.
[ Tires screeching ] WILDMAN: The doctor is shaken but escapes injury.
She immediately understands why the two vehicles almost crashed.
FRANZ: It was dusk.
It was hard to see.
She realizes the truck driver didn't know where his side of the road was and where her side of the road was.
[ Tires screeching, glass shattering ] WILDMAN: And McCarroll is not alone.
Every year, thousands of cars are colliding on the nation's streets.
FRANZ: The more automobiles that start to use the roads, the more accidents are being seen on the roads.
WILDMAN: McCarroll vows to find a way to prevent these crashes.
June's passion was helping people.
She's determined to solve this problem.
And it's something she just can't let go.
WILDMAN: Then, one day, the physician comes up with an idea.
She realizes that, if drivers had some kind of visual reference to keep them in their lanes, they could avoid these collisions.
FRANZ: It was something that kept replaying in her mind.
And she comes up with this brilliant idea a simple white line down the middle of the road.
WILDMAN: Excited by her plan, Dr.
McCarroll takes it to her local county board.
But their reaction is not what she had hoped.
She is politely thanked for her idea.
And then it is politely tabled.
No action is taken.
WILDMAN: The officials have no interest in taking advice from a doctor with no expertise in road safety.
She was surprised and unhappy that they didn't take her idea more seriously.
But Dr.
June was not the kind of woman that took no for an answer.
WILDMAN: McCarroll resolves to prove the board wrong.
And what she does next leaves the community astounded.
It's 1917 in Indio, California.
June McCarroll has an ingenious idea that she thinks will make America's highways safer -- paint a white line down the middle of the road.
But government officials have pooh-poohed her proposal.
So can this crusading doctor steer them in the right direction? McCarroll decides to take matters into her own hands.
She buys a bucket of paint.
She then starts painting a white stripe down the middle of California Highway 99.
FRANZ: She wanted to be able to see if there was any difference in how people drove.
WILDMAN: With curious townspeople and drivers looking on, she lays down a line that stretches for over a mile.
FRANZ: She didn't have permission to do this.
But this line was getting painted.
WILDMAN: To her delight, her invention works.
FRZ:AN People stayed on one side of the line or the other.
So she knew her idea was good.
WILDMAN: Thanks to McCarroll's persistence, state officials eventually authorize the painting of center lines on all California highways.
The move drastically reduces collisions across the state.
The scheme is so successful that painted lines are soon commissioned on roadways everywhere.
FRANZ: What started as a line down the middle of a road in Indio has now turned into a white line down the middle of every road in the world.
WILDMAN: And today, Dr.
June McCarroll's medicine bag is preserved at the Coachella Valley History Museum, a reminder of the pioneering physician whose persistence helped keep America's drivers in their own lanes.
Oslo, Norway.
This idyllic capital city was once the site of a large Viking settlement.
Today, it has a more cultured air as a major hub for the arts.
And one of its most beloved institutions is the National Museum.
It boasts the largest public collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures in Norway.
But even amid this vast collection, one piece stands apart.
It sits in a beautiful gilded frame, which sets off the swirling colors of the piece.
You can see a haunted, caoortn-like figure which is against a very dramatic and dark backdrop.
WILDMAN: This is Edvard Munch's "The Scream.
" According to journalist Louise Hulland, the masterpiece was at the heart of a sensational crime that stunned the world.
HULLAND: This was one of the most daring heists and one of the most controversial art thefts ever known.
WILDMAN: Oslo, Norway -- February 11, 1994, 6:30 a.
[ Alarm bell ringing ] An alarm is ingog off on the second floor of the city's National Gallery.
When security guards arrive on the scene, they make a shocking discovery.
Edvard Munch's "The Scream" had disappeared.
WILDMAN: Painted in 1893, "The Scream" is one of the most important pictures in the history of modern art.
This particular painting has become iconic.
Even if you know nothing about Edvard Munch, you will know this picture.
WILDMAN: Norwegian police waste no time beginning their investigation.
But it seems the robbers have left few clues.
At the scene, there is just a broken window and a set of wire cutters.
HULLAND: These thieves had literally let themselves in through the window, taken the painting, and gone out of the window again.
So simple.
WILDMAN: Investigators scour security camera footage but are unable to get any clear shots of the thieves.
With each passing hour, it seems as if "The Scream" might be gone for good.
They had very little to go on, and they'd hit a brick wall.
They needed help, and they needed help fast.
WILDMAN: Norwegian officials turn to an expert for help, a detective from Scotland Yard named Charlie Hill.
HULLAND: Hill made an entire career of solving art thefts.
And he tracked down millions of pounds worth of stolen pieces of art.
WILDMAN: Hill believes the burglars will want to unload the famous painting as quickly as possible.
And so, posing as a shady art dealer under an assumed name, the detective spreads the word that he's looking to buy "The Scream," no questions asked.
He had to infiltrate the inner circles of these art thieves.
WILDMAN: After 2 months of intense undercover work, he gets a bite.
He gets a phone call from a man called Johnson, who claims that he knows the people who stole the painting.
WILDMAN: Johnson offers to connect Hill to the thieves and tells him that "The Scream" is for sale for a whopping sum, nearly $800,000.
The two men agree to meet at a local hotel.
The plan was to meet this Johnson character who would lead him to this missing painting, then make an arrest.
WILDMAN: On May 5th, the operation begins.
Detective Hill heads to the hotel carrying a suitcase filled with cash.
But when he enters the lobby, his plan comes to a screeching halt.
HULLAND: He'd just walked in to a convention of police officers.
This was a massive problem.
The place was crawling with cops.
WILDMAN: Sure enough, when Johnson arrives, their conversation is brief.
HULLAND: He'd picked up on the fact that the room was full of police officers.
He turned to Hill and said, "Yeah.
I'm leaving.
" WILDMAN: The undercover cop watches helplessly as his one link to the priceless painting walks away.
He had to ask himself if "The Scream" was lost forever.
It's 1994 -- Oslo, Norway.
Edvard Munch's iconic painting, "The Scream," has been stolen.
Charged with recovering the pricesels work of art is Scotland Yard's Detective Charlie Hill.
But just as Hill closes in on the culprit, his plan unravels before his very eyes In the wake of the failed hand-off, the detective returns to his hotel room.
Charlie Hill was just so close and yet watched his one chance slip through his fingers.
WILDMAN: But that night, just when all seems lost [ Telephone ringing ] Hill receives a phone call.
It's Johnson.
He says he still wants the deal to go ahead.
It looked like the plan was on again.
WILDMAN: The following morning, Hill and Johnson meet once more.
The undercover police officer opens the bag of cash but is told that, to reclaim the painting, he must leave the money at the hotel and travel with Johnson's driver to an isolated location outside of Oslo.
HULLAND: Hill, at this point, had no idea if this was a setup or if this was for real and what on earth awaited him within the next hour of his life.
WILDMAN: Hill arrives at an abandoned cottage.
There, he's handed a rectangular bundle cloaked in a blue sheet.
Slowly, he unwraps the package.
HULLAND: He is delhtiged.
There it was in front of him, Norway's most treasured possession.
WILDMAN: With the painting secured, Hill makes his exit.
Johnson and three accomplices were arrested.
WILDMAN: "The Scream" is eventually restored to its rightful place at the National Museum in Oslo.
It remains one of Norway's most prized cultalur treasures as well as a harrowing reminder of the hunt that brought this masterpiece home.
From a flying blob to a popular penny-pincher, an incredible heist to an indestructible man, I'm Don Wildman, and these are the mysteries at the museum.