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How you could own the Columbo portrait from Murder, A Self Portrait

Portrait 8

Many Columbo fans from many far-flung locations over many years have yearned for more information on the whereabouts of the Columbo portrait from Murder, A Self Portrait. And now you can get your trotters on a beautiful print of it yourself!

The portrait achieved immortality in the trippy, art-infused 1989 episode, in which artist-cum-polygamist-cum-MURDERER Max Barsini creates a magnificent artwork of the good Lieutenant as the two mentally size each other up. And while the episode itself splits opinion (for many it’s FAR too weird), one thing almost every fan agrees on is that the portrait itself is ruddy delightful.

Portrait 4

Weell you seet steel Leftenant?

So what do we know about the painting itself? Well, it was created by Jaroslav Gebr, a Czech artist of note who also served as Universal’s Head of Scenic Arts for many years. His works graced many legendary film and TV projects, including The Sound of Music, Scarface, Batman, Star Trek and 24. But, of course, it’s his work on Columbo that is most relevant to us.

Gebr’s first Columbo artwork featured in 1975’s Forgotten Lady, where he created a portrait of Janet Leigh in the guise of Grace Wheeler Willis that was visible in Grace’s home. He also created a series of nude paintings for Murder, A Self Portrait, featuring Isabel Garcia-Lorca, who starred as Barsini’s live-in lover Julie.

The Columbo portrait was the episode’s piece de resistance, as one might expect, and I’m assured that the original is alive and well and in the custodianship of the Gebr Estate. But in order to give fans a chance to enjoy it themselves, a limited edition, signed, numbered print of the portrait is now available to purchase (squeals with all-too-real excitement!).

Forgotten Portrait

Gebr’s portrait of Janet Leigh from Forgotten Lady can be seen in the background here!

Be aware that there are only 20 of these prints available (I told you it was limited edition), and it’s not some cheap flimsy poster, but a high-quality print of a world-class work of art. As a result, this is something for the serious fan and a framed print weighs in at US$500. I’m told by my good friend Thomas Gebr at the Gebr Estate that an unframed version can also be obtained for $300.

Interested? Then take a look a look for yourself right here! And while you’re there you can view the range of original portraits from the same episode that are also available for sale.

I’ve already put in my order for one of these, and while I accept it’s a reasonable outlay, and really one for the serious fan only, you’ve got to admit one of these would look terrific on your walls, wouldn’t it?

Portrait 3

Oooooh, yes please guv’nah! Gimme!

If you have any queries about the Columbo collection, get in touch with Thomas Gebr here. And if you do decide to take the plunge, please let me know! It’d be great to share notes with fellow buyers. Indeed, if you have any Columbo artwork at your home (there are several ultra-cool 70s movies posters in circulation from when a limited number of episodes were screened in cinemas in Europe), sing out in the comments below.


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You will need a house this big and impressive to do justice to the Columbo portrait!

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24 thoughts on “How you could own the Columbo portrait from Murder, A Self Portrait

  1. Also, I’ve never seen the man who plays Barsini in anything else. Has anyone? References welcomed! Thx!

      • Patrick Bauchau has his own wikipedia page, which states, “Patrick Nicolas Jean Sixte Ghislain Bauchau (born 6 December 1938) is a Belgian actor best known for his role as Scarpine in the 1985 James Bond movie, A View to a Kill; Sydney (Jarod’s mentor) in the TV series The Pretender; and Doctor Rowan Chase, Doctor Robert Chase’s estranged father in the TV series, House.”

        And of course, Max Barsini in Columbo.

  2. Am viewing “Murder: Self Portrait” on “ME TV” and hope that this is one of the “gems” Columbophile was referring to that can be found among the later episodes beginning in 1989. I see it is the first offering after Columbo’s return. It certainly is consistently entertaining. Columbo’s first encounter with the psychiatrist is priceless, and ended with admirable restraint, although I would have enjoyed just a bit more of this “bit”. I would like to nominate this episode for a switch with “Last Salute To the Commodore”: Place “Last Salute” among the new episodes, which might partially excuse its eccentricities; whereas “Murder: Self Portrait” would fit well among the earlier episodes.

    • HowevI may wish to revise my opinion after completing my viewing of all these dream scenes. Hopefully not……

      • Better than many of the originals! Final word. And yes, I want a copy of the painting that makes the ending of this episode so poignant,

  3. Pingback: 2018: the Columbo year in review | The Columbophile

  4. I collect some memorabilia, but I’ve usually gone the economy route. About 16 years ago, I wrote to Peter Falk and sent him a photo, which he signed and sent back to me. And in the latter years of his life, he used to sell limited edition prints of his self-portraits as Columbo, which I wanted to buy but had let the opportunity slip by.

    As for “Murder, A Self Portrait,” if Columbo had seen “The Godfather,” then he surely “should have known it was Barzini all along.”

    PS: According to some, Peter Falk was in touch with director Francis Coppola to play the role of Tom Hagen in “The Godfather,” which ultimately went to Robert Duvall. However, I disagree with that conclusion. Based on Peter Falk’s autobiography, he said that when his agent sent him the script, he turned down “The Godfather” because he thought the role too small. Though his autobiography doesn’t mention the specific role he turned down, I believe it unlikely that the role was Tom Hagen since that was not a small role. Also, since I know quite a bit about “The Godfather,” one of the critical things that Coppola and his producers wanted to do was to cast the characters with ethnic authenticity to the extent feasible. So, given the shortage of lines for the character that Peter Falk was being considered for, and the fact that Falk was himself a Jew, I believe the role he turned down was actually Moe Green, a gangster with Jewish heritage. The role of Moe Green ultimately went to Alex Rocco, who plays this role perfectly. The other possibility was that Falk was considered for the role of Virgil Sollozzo, which ultimately went to Al Lettieri, who also played his role perfectly. Here’s Coppola’s handwritten note showing Peter Falk’s name listed but crossed-out. Falk decision to pass on “The Godfather” was a great one for Columbo fans. Although Falk had already appeared in 1968’s “Prescription: Murder,” the real Columbo TV series didn’t start until after the casting decisions were made for “The Godfather” and the film was already in production. And except for “Prescription: Murder,” Falk was largely known for playing villains and especially gangsters (and was nominated for Oscars for two gangster roles). Switching to a “good guy” role was “the smart move,” to use another line from “The Godfather.” The entertainment industry has a nasty habit of typecasting actors and taking on Columbo full-time was a real change for him. (Al Pacino made a similar wise decision to play the cop in “Serpico” to break from his sudden fame as Micael Corleone in “The Godfather.) Thankfully, Falk turned down whatever role he was actually being considered for in “The Godfather.” His career might have taken a different path.

    • Excellent! I agree with all you say. The closest I ever got to meeting Peter Falk was a girl friend of a male friend got to see NYC. Let alone get an autographed picture. Perhaps I’ one from Ebay!

  5. Way to find a–heretofore unbeknownst to me–cool Columbo treasure, Columbophile! Way to go! “I knew you could do it.”

    I’m familiar with the “Murder, A Self Portrait” title but have not seen it, know any plot points or recall the portrait in any detail. So I was glad to get a good look at it and much to my surprise, though it’s not from the original series, it’s the ’70s Columbo I know and love! Of course I am glad the later episodes exist, but in them dear Columbo doesn’t really look the same to me.

    What a great portrait and it’s great to know the interesting backstory on the artist who painted it and the “Forgotten Lady” portrait as well. Is it possible he also painted the Mrs. Melville portrait?

    • The Melville painting captures the tone of the Columbo portrait, but I think if the artist had painted Mrs. Melville – also used in “Bye-Bye Sky High…” – that it’d have been mentioned. I second your emotion about the ’70s episodes!

  6. $500! What!
    A fool and his hard earned money will soon be dearly parted. RIP my money.

    • I LOVE this episode, hv it on the DVR, watching it now.
      Can’t resist the beach, the house, the plot and those characters!
      Max Barsini is the most unapologetic narcissist I’ve ever seen, a manipulative rogue charmer who sees nothing wrong in having whatever–or whomever–he wants.
      The dream analysis is interesting; I always watch with delight as Columbo closes the trap bit by bit.
      The portrait is the “Ahhhh” payoff.
      The dog bits seem out of place, but Columbo is so sweet with him, it’s adorable. Irresistible!

  7. I understand that Peter Falk himself was quite an artist. Any way to see (possibly purchase) any of his artwork?


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