The foreign voices and the fashionably dressed at the Washington international Art Fair Eddied around the high-priced prints and paintings - the Henry Moores, the Picassos, the Warhols, the Parkyn-Jacksons . . .
Surely not the same Bruce Parkin Jackson (the hyphen is an affectation) who preached the gospel to the unbelievers in Dupont Circle; who as a self-styled international financier, sailed majestically down French canals in a gleaming yacht: who danced lightly to high society's tune here and abroad, and who just as lightly left the country to eat dandelions in the Pyrenees while angry creditors filed lawsuits he was responsible for them losing?
Yes, in fact, the very same. A man whose life makes Walter Mitty look like a piker. Jackson now is making himself known to Washingtonians in yet another reincarnation - Bruce Parkyn-Jackson, painter.
"My two sons and I are quite enjoying the life of 'starving artist,'" he wrote in a letter from Europe to a reporter in Washington recently, "thought our circumstances encourage frequent moving."
Circumstances, indeed. Last spring found Jackson high in the Pyrences Mountains, living of wild pig and dandelions following the collapse of a financial empire that allegedly was based more on fantasy than cold, hard cash.
According to sources within a U.S. investigation that continues to this day. Jackson apparently had concocted a dazzling, complicated scheme by which European companies allegedly lent money they did not have to American businesses who needed it at interest rates of up to 30 per cent.
Federal investigators have followed Jackson's trail from here to the great European capitals and back again. The tale of his financial dealings is so complicated, they say, that they are still putting together the pieces.
Despite Jackson's professed enjoyment of his new life - wherever he is - in Europe, apparently he is not unmindful of the troublesome nature of his exploits. "Unfortunately," he said in his letter. "I have the feeling that one day before too long I must return to face them (the creditors) again . . . Which I only hesitate to do until I have made a secure nest for my children, away from harm's reach, over here."
One of those creditors is the MBPXL Corp., the second largest meat processing company in the country. A little more than a year ago, according to the corporation's attorney a judgment was entered in a District Cour civil suit against two of Jackson's companies in MBPXL's favor, to the tune of $619.000.
Leslie H. Williams, vice president of MBPXL, has little hope that his company ever will see the money. "It's been a long ordeal," he sighed during a long distance telephone interview from Wichita, Kan. "I'm afraid we'll never see that money. But he (Jackson) calls me every now and then and says he wants to help me try and figure out where all that money is."
"Well, I've got to hand it to him," Williams said. "He's a very unusual guy."
Among the gallants strolling past the many offering at the D.C. Armory the other night, was Chris Hinkel, a 28-year-old computer programmer who said he had been an usher at Jackson's wedding about five years ago. "He was a super con man," said Hinkel, "just like those good-looking ones on the TV shows."
Hinkel warmed to his theme as he stood bneath Jackson's paintings."You might say - and this is a good quote - that he's a survivor of our modern times," Hinkel said. "You goota admire him. Art, Hinkel said, is all a racket - I mean we need art for civilization and all that - but Bruce as an artist, that's got to be his classiest rip-off yet."
The lights dimmed, and as the last of the patrons filed by the booth containing Parkyn-Jackson's paintings, two dealers in a nearby booth watched with folded arms as a woman left their own stall with a recent purchase. "That thing she bought, that's trash," said the one dealer.
"Never mind," said his companion. "If they think it's art, sell it."