The work in question, a masterpiece of artistic realism called “Prince of Peace,” was stolen, mistakenly sold, and locked away in a private collection.
In 2003, Kramarik met a traveling carpenter who inspired her to paint the face of Jesus. While the work exhibited a tremendous amount of skill from an artist of such a young age, it was not well received by critics at the time it was first shown, with some even going as far as to suggest burning the painting.
The painting was then sent out for exhibition, but Kramarik’s family was distraught to find that the painting was stolen and held for ransom. What followed was a long period of negotiation, but it was finally returned, although during this time the painting was not properly cared for and it came back to Kramarik covered in sawdust, which she meticulously removed.
“Prince of Peace” will forever bear the marks of its abduction, with some of the sawdust embedded within the paint, which Kramarik likens to the scars left on Christ’s own head by the crown of thrones during his Passion.
The family worked hard to find an agent they could trust to display the work and protect it from theft and damages, but unfortunately the next attempt they made to have “Prince of Peace” displayed ended in failure, as a clerical error marked the painting for sale rather than exhibition, and it was sold to a private collector.
This gave way to a lengthy legal battle, which the Kramariks never won. The future of the painting seemed bleak, but in this time Kramarik never stopped painting, producing several other works of high quality that garnered her praise and respect from the same community that had decried “Prince of Peace.”
Akaine gained acclaim as a prodigious new face in the artistic scene as both a visual artist and a poet, but she never gave up on “Prince of Peace,” keeping track of the painting’s location and selling prints of the piece (she’s sold over 100,000) so that the memory of the hidden painting would not fade.
This year, after 16 years hidden away, “Prince of Peace” was put up for sale. It was purchased by an unnamed party — identified only as “one of the world’s most distinguished and esteemed families” — for $850,000. The YouTube video above, released on Akaine’s own channel, explains that the family who bought the painting has the utmost respect for the work and they will care for it and display it in exhibitions for years to come.
The video also shows the reunion between artist and painting, as the family who bought the painting allowed Kramarik to privately view the work. Akaine falls to her knees before her old painting, overwhelmed by emotion upon seeing her old friend. At this reunion Akaine explains why she painted the eyes looking at the viewer:
“I wanted specifically for him to look at the [viewer]. I think the reason I wanted to do the eyes this way is because I wanted him to speak to the [viewer]. Whoever’s looking at it, it’s almost like a personal conversation. An intimate conversation that only the [viewer] can understand.”