A woman is talking on the phone to a man called "Bernard." She needs to talk to him in person and arranges to meet him. As she hangs up a colleague comes in with a poster advertising the Claude Monet painting, Spring Violets, coming to the Champlain Museum of Art. The first woman excuses herself, claiming a "kid emergency" just came up.
The scene changes, and we see a German man and an American man talking. It is obvious that something that they have been involved in has gone wrong and the consequences could be potentially disastrous. Only the American is acting worried, the German appears to be calm. The German agrees to help the American sort out the situation.
The American is then having dinner with his wife and tells her that he has to go back to the studio that night. They argue because the wife doesn't want him to go. She feels that he is working too hard and he is exhausted.
The German and the American are then back together in a different room from when they were last together. The German is drinking win, when the door bell rings. The American opens the door and the woman who was on the phone earlier enters. She wants to know why the German is there, claiming she thought it was supposed to be private. The American assures her that the German knows everything.
The doorbell rings again and the characters look at each other before the scene changes. The American's wife exits a cab and enters the room where the woman and the two men had met the night before. She discovers her husband lying dead, on the floor with a revolver not far from his left hand and the woman whom he had met with hanging in the corner, the rope slung over a pipe near the ceiling and tied off on a radiator.
The detectives investigate the scene. The American is identified by his wife as Bernard Jackson, an art authenticator and the woman is identified by identification in her purse as Ann Ellis, the curator of the Champlain Museum of Art. The weapon is identified as Jackson's.
Eames mentions that opinion polls peg the two deaths as murder-suicide but Goren tells her 'never trust opinion polls'. He proceeds to prove that it is a double homicide. Back at the station, Deakins puts forward a few possible motives for the murders but Goren explains why they can't be the case.
As Goren and Eames interview Ann's husband they learn that a couple by the name of Blunt were donating the Monet to the museum. At the Blunt's house Goren pretends not to know much about art and he makes Mr. Blunt nervous by picking up a small statue. He then makes a comment about the Monet that shows that he might know more about art than he's letting on.
Mr. Blunt goes to see the German. He is worried by how much Goren appears to know about art. The German tells Mr. Blunt that Jackson was having an affair with Ann and Blunt calls Jackson stupid for having done so. The German tells him that they can use this to their advantage and use Jackson as the scapegoat.
As the detectives continue their investigation, inconsistencies begin to appear. Goren continues to show his wide knowledge of the art world.
After a test of the radiation levels in the linseed in the paint, the detectives are informed that Goren was right in his statement that "the exquisite Monet could be an exquisite fake."
The detectives interview the German, Rudy Langer, after finding a discrepancy between how much Jackson had on the books ($100,000) and how much his wife claimed he put into their bank account over the last year ($1,000,000).
The German is still unworried and claims that the science which proved the Monet was a fake isn't as accurate as Americans like to believe. We also learn that Goren learned German in the army.
The German gives the detectives all the paintings he has bought recently after Goren threatens him with 'something else Americans are impressed with' – subpoenas. They learn that all of the paintings had belonged to Jews, who had met an "unfortunate end." They also learn that the original paintings had all been lost at sea when a German U-Boat sank.
There is a common theme throughout all of the painting sales. All were donated by the buyers to smaller museums where they would be a star. They link the sales to a tax scam but don't believe the museums were in on it.
Goren takes transparencies of the forgeries to another artist who copies famous paintings. He discovers the forger's signature in the top right hand corner and identifies her as Sylvia Moon.
We see Langer arguing with a woman about her art. The detectives then meet this same woman, Sylvia Moon, and begin to question her. They bring her into interrogation and she claims that Langer knew what he was buying.
Sylvia claims that she doesn't know who Jackson is but the detectives learn that he was a lecturer at the college where she studied art and that she had an affair with him. They also learn that Sylvia's roommate committed suicide by hanging herself and that the painting that Sylvia used to get into college was actually painted by her dead roommate. The pictures of Sylvia's roommate's death show an identical method of hanging as that used to kill Ann Ellis.
The detectives trick Sylvia into slipping up and confessing to being involved in the murders. When she starts moaning about how hard her life was Goren puts her down sharply.
The detectives arrest Langer, who Sylvia also implicated in the killings. Goren tells him that he should have supported his partner because now that she is a confessed murderer her paintings would fetch a rich price. He is dragged off shouting, "You bring me down on the word of a woman? A woman?!"