ByKarly Rayner, writer at Creators.co
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

It has emerged that escaped prisoner Richard W. Matt, who was recently shot and killed by police while on the run, used the power of celebrity to help him slip out from behind bars.

The 49-year-old convicted murderer, who escaped alongside fellow killer David Sweat three weeks ago, fled from a high security prison in New York State with the help of prison guards and it has emerged that the felon had some highly unusual bartering methods.

Gene Palmer and Joyce Mitchell, the guards charged with helping Matt and Sweat escape.
Gene Palmer and Joyce Mitchell, the guards charged with helping Matt and Sweat escape.

Matt was regarded as the most gifted artist in Clinton Correctional Facility and, according to court documents, he used his paintings of popular celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Marilyn Monroe as bartering chips to obtain tools from correctional guard, Gene Palmer.

Matt's painting of Angelina Jolie
Matt's painting of Angelina Jolie

It is alleged that a screwdriver and pliers supplied by Palmer were used in the escape in which Matt and Sweat, dug a hole through their cell walls and escaped via a prison air vent and out of a manhole.

According to Artnet, Palmer was so passionate about Matt's paintings that he supplied him with acrylic paints and even helped send a painting of TV character Tony Soprano to a woman in Florida who sold the artwork on eBay for $2,000.

A portrait of Julia Roberts by Matt
A portrait of Julia Roberts by Matt

The 57-year-old guard, who is now facing felony charges, also made a fire pit at his home to burn paintings by Matt to try and cover up his close relationship to Matt, who he supervised for seven years.

While this might all seem totally insane, it is routine for prisoners to give artworks to prison employees. According to a former state official who wished to remain unidentified:

"Pictures are often done by inmates and offered up to staff and I've even seen them given to wardens. It happens all the time."
Marilyn Monroe, lovingly rendered by the now deceased Matt
Marilyn Monroe, lovingly rendered by the now deceased Matt

Although it is highly probable that Matt's prowess at painting the stars had some influence on the escape, Palmer is innocent according to the recently captured David Sweat.

According to NBC News, Sweat, who was non-fatally shot by police yesterday, has told authorities that only Joyce Mitchell is guilty of helping him to escape alongside Matt.

A portrait of Oprah by Matt
A portrait of Oprah by Matt

As is the trend with artwork, it's likely that now Richard Matt has been killed there will be an increase in the price of his artwork, which should please former inmate and friend, John Mulligan, who shared the paintings in this article.

Whether Matt will gain a seat in the morally dubious market for selling art by killers is anyone's guess, but he might end up being grouped together with these guys in the near future.

(Source: New York Times (2), NBC News and Artnet)

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