Never did she grab the jewels and run. That wasn’t her way. Instead, she glided in, engaged the clerk in one of her stories, confused them and easily slipped away with a diamond ring, usually to a waiting taxi cab.
She is, says retired Denver Police Detective Gail Riddell, like a character from a movie — a female Cary Grant, smooth and confident.
“She is very good at what she does,” said Riddell. “She has the style.”
And she has been very, very successful. Every month or every other month — no one knows how many times over more than 50 years — she strolled into a jewelry store and strolled out with a ring worth thousands of dollars.
Occasionally, she was caught. Mostly, she was not.
“Great works of art, at a deep level, bring about a feeling of destruction, an urge to destroy which also many artists have. Michelangelo himself destroyed some of his own works or parts of them.”
But the will to destroy is not just caused by a subconscious link between creating and destroying. The David syndrome is also caused by people’s deepest fears and desires, by sex and death.
Magherini has interviewed gallery visitors who are fixated with and disturbed by the physical attributes of David, considered by art critics to be a vision of male perfection.
“There’s a great force, an impulse of an erotic and sexual nature, not just in women, but even more so in men. Men of 35-40 year of age who are attracted by the extraordinary masculine beauty and at the same time are also agitated.”
The David syndrome has links to the somewhat better known Stendhal syndrome, a term Magherini coined more than 20 years ago, which causes viewers of art to be physically overcome by their reaction to art, sometimes leading to hospitalization.
While the benefits of being able to wrap your own legs behind your head may not be immediately apparent, a little careful thought can bring up several situations where it might come in handy. Such as scratching an unwanted itch, or escaping from the deathtrap of a supervillian.