Travel hits and misses: Kirk Torrance offloads a $3m painting in New York

Travel hits and misses: Kirk Torrance offloads a $3m painting in New York

Kirk Torrance stars in Wilde Ride, screening on Saturdays on TVNZ 2 and on TVNZ OnDemand.


I had planned to meet up with someone in the UK and at the last minute it fell through.

Since I couldn’t refund the ticket, I decided to go anyway. I had planned a three-day stopover in New York with an old swimming friend who was living in Manhattan. Arriving in New York for the first time is really something. It’s like they say, it looks and feels like you’re stepping into a movie. Day two of my stay, my friend and I decided to head to a local pub for a beer. The first person I bumped into was a Kiwi who I knew from the arts scene in Wellington. She had a flatmate from New Zealand that was producing a play and needed a male actor, so she got me an audition. I turned up and I knew the director too, from Wellington. So the audition turned out to be a big ol’ catch up. I got the part and ended up staying in New York for three months. And because it was a co-op play (read, no pay) they organised a job for me, shifting antique art and furniture. One of my jobs was to hand over a $3 million Amedeo Modigliani painting. I was shaking with nerves and couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Being in the Big Apple with a job, as opposed to just being a tourist, allowed me to feel like I was part of what it is to live in New York.


Being stranded in an airport. Long, long ago, I had been offered a swimming scholarship to a university in Japan. Up until that point, all my travelling overseas had been as part of a team. So choosing the cheapest option to get to Japan meant that it stopped in Noumea. Sounded nice. But what I didn’t realise (because I didn’t pay attention) was that the stopover was for 12 hours. Plus the inbound aircraft was late by two hours. I didn’t leave the transit lounge, which was a couple of plastic seats, for 14 long hours. When I got to Japan, I was smelling sooo funky.


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