There once was a thief, a man named Emanuel Ninger. The year is 1887. The scene is a small neighborhood grocery store. Mr. Ninger is buying some turnip greens. He gives the clerk a $20 bill. As the clerk begins to put the money in the cash drawer to give Nr. Ninger his change, she notices some of the ink from the $20 bill is coming off on her fingers which are damp from the turnip greens. She looks at Mr. Ninger, a man she has known for years. She looks at the smudged bill. This man is a trusted friend; she has known him all her life; he can't be a counterfeiter. She gives Mr. Ninger his change, and he leaves the store.
But $20 is a lot of money in 1887, and eventually the clerk calls the police. They verify the bill as counterfeit and get a search warrant to look through Mr. Ninger's home. In the attic they find where he is reproducing money. He is a master artist and is painting $20 bills with brushes and paint! But also in the attic they find three portraits Ninger had painted. They seized these and eventually sold them at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency, remember) or a little more than $5,000 per painting. The irony is that it took Ninger almost as long to paint a $20 bill as it did for him to paint a $5,000 portrait! It's true that Emmanuel Ninger was a thief, but the person from whom he stole the most was himself. He was another in the endless list of thieves who steal from themselves when they try to steal from others.