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The Portrait
Season 1 · Episode 05
November 20, 2009 (2009-11-20)

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The Portrait is the 5th episode of Season 1 of White Collar and the 5th produced episode.


When an expensive portrait is stolen from a young woman, Peter and Neal set a sting for the cunning and deadly culprit. Neal must uncover the secret truth of the portrait's origin even as the net tightens around the villain ... and around Neal himself!


Neal and Peter make a house call when an extremely valuable work by the painter Haustenberg is stolen from a Manhattan residence. The owner, 22-year-old Julianna Laszlo, inherited the house and the painting from her grandmother, not knowing how much it was worth. Neal thinks her uncle Gary may be responsible.

Gary lawyers up quickly, but that doesn't stop Neal from confronting the jumpy stock trader. As it turns out, Gary was just a tipster working for a small cut. The real thief? Gerard Dorsett, a high-end loan shark with a very violent side. Dorsett had been trying to unload the Haustenberg all over town, so Peter sets up a sting operation at a high-end gallery with Neal posing as a prospective buyer. But the sting goes sour, and when Dorsett smells the trap, the wary thief escapes with the painting and one hundred thousand dollars of the FBI's money.

Needless to say, Peter's bosses are pissed. And to make matters worse, the curator from the Channing Museum shows up. Apparently, the painting actually belongs to the museum. Did Julianna's grandmother steal the Haustenberg first? The only way to set the story straight is for Neal and Peter to recover the painting. The problem is, Dorsett went underground, and the only lead Peter and Neal have to follow is the first name of a girlfriend - not much when a priceless painting and FBI money are at stake.

The FBI work to locate Dorsett's girlfriend, hoping she will lead them to Dorsett and the stolen merchandise. Peter and Neal follow up a lead and find the girlfriend. While Peter unhappily distracts her and her friend, Neal secretly steals the painting. On the back of it is a message to Julianna's grandmother from Haustenberg himself!

Back at his apartment, Neal and Mozzie work to make a forgery to give to the museum so the real one can be returned to Julianna. The painting turns out to be a portrait of Julianna's grandmother. Her grandmother was the illegitimate child of Haustenberg. Haustenberg willed the painting to his daughter, but the museum didn't see it fit to fulfill his wishes to his illegitimate daughter and kept it instead. Julianna's grandmother stole the painting back. Julianna asks Neal, "What's going to stop them from taking the painting again?" Neal assures her when the curator sees the message he left for him on the back of the fake Haustenberg painting, he won't do a thing.

The FBI catch Dorsett in the end as well as getting back the money.


"You're not a very good liar" - Neal Caffrey


Guest Starring[]


  • Natalia Kilmas as Brigette
  • Heidi Kristoffer as Claire
  • Benjamin Smith as Joshua