Twist of fate

LA gay couple return Nazi art to Poland, get engaged

David Crocker (far left) and Craig Gilmore

In a twist worthy of a great spy novel, a Los Angeles-based gay couple have discovered a painting they purchased is actually a lost bit of Nazi-looted art. In an even more head-spinning twist, the pair got engaged after returning it to its native Poland.

“Portrait of a Lady” by the Flemish artist Melchior Geldorp hung in the kitchen of Craig Gilmore and David Crocker, both 55, after the couple paid $5,000 for it at a New York auction about 10 years ago. In 2016, the couple were surprised to say the least when Homeland Security agents arrived at their home to inform them that the painting was actually Nazi loot stolen from Poland during the Second World War.

Gilmore and Crocker parted with the painting, returning it to the National Museum in Warsaw. Recently, they revisited their beloved painting, and punctuated the saga of the lost art with another twist: they got engaged.

Related: How This Chiseled Boxing Champ Became The Unlikely New Face Of Gay Rights In Poland

Crocker and Gilmore strolled through a Warsaw park as news cameras followed the return of the national heroes. Gilmore then dropped to one knee to make his proposal. Gilmore later said that he had selected the venue as a showing of solidarity with the oppressed LGBTQ community in Poland. “[I wanted to] invite the Polish LGBTQ community to join in our joy,” Gilmore said. “David and I are confident that very soon they will prevail in their struggles.”

Recent years have seen a wave of homophobia on the rise in Eastern Europe, especially in the heavily Catholic Poland. Marriage equality remains illegal in the nation, as does adoption by gay couples (single gay people are allowed to adopt). This March, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the most powerful politician in Poland, declared war on the queer community. “It comes down to, as we know today, sexualization of children from the earliest childhood,” he said at a party convention. “We need to fight this. We need to defend the Polish family. We need to defend it furiously because it’s a threat to civilization, not just for Poland but for the entire Europe, for the entire civilization that is based on Christianity.”