Treasure: The Big Reveal

Shop owner Lana Barakat finds meaning in two mysterious artworks. —By Connor Harrison

Photograph by Joe St. Pierre

During a 2007 trip to Vietnam, Lana Barakat was wandering the art galleries of Hanoi when a pair of portraits caught her eye. Rendered in swirling layers of oil paint, the pieces stood out among a sea of Van Gogh knockoffs and other “mass-produced” works. “They just had a certain energy,” says Barakat, owner of the Boston-based apparel-and-home-goods shop December Thieves. Intrigued, she purchased the paintings, hoping to track down the artist who’d created them. More than a decade later, her search continues. Barakat says the experience has impacted the way she curates her own boutiques: Preserving the story of each product—and the artist behind it—is key. “We want to satiate the customers’ appetite for knowledge of what they are buying—and the importance of buying something driven by passion,” she says.