Paradise Found, Paradise Lo$t

STORY BY Adam Yellin

Published: July 29, 2013

Locked up in a psyche ward for trying to save a terrified cat..

Broke, Living off the grid and hanging on by a thread...Rescuing a rare Hundertwasser painting before it was destroyed...Is this the life of a madman? No, it's just a guy named Chris– part Indiana Jones, part Ralph Kramden. Everything in Chris' world has been totally crazy, even before he got a multi-million dollar mural… but is it?

After an enormous renovation at a New York synagogue, the massive painting, "Paradise - Land of Men, Trees, Birds & Ships" was going to be destroyed

Created by famous Jewish Austrian painter Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (yea, it's a mouthful) there was no plan to save the massive mural.  But after a miraculous last minute rescue by humble contractor, Chris, "Paradise" was saved… or so we thought.

No one in the art world can figure out how much it's worth.

A few thousand?


What is known is that it's in desperate need of restoration. Haphazardly split into pieces, "Paradise" waits inside a run down warehouse in Brooklyn, chipping, peeling and rotting away...

But Chris insists he's waiting for the right buyer and restorer to fix it but opportunities come and go with Chris becoming more strangely attached to the mural each day.

Roping other investors in to keep his dreams afloat, Chris hopes for a huge windfall that he'll use to save the world; clean water for Africans, biomorphic floating bomb proof islands(!?), but time marches on, and whatever value Paradise may have had could now be lost.

"Paradise Found, Paradise Lo$t" is a story about art, greed and impossible dreams and my difficult journey in trying to create a film around a motley crew of rogue characters that have been forever changed by the mural.

As the filmmaker, I do what I can to capture the insanity, exhausting myself in trying to keep up with the all changes and to seek out all those afflicted by "Paradise".    

Then again, it could be one long con. Is Chris just pocketing the few bucks he gets just so he no longer has to work for a living? Is it all just a scam? Am I the only one getting burned in the end? Only time and the film will tell...

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Wall Street Journal article

Other Stories by Adam Yellin
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