“It kind of restored my faith in humanity and karma,” said Smutty, who called from the homeless shelter in Reykjavik where he works. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years. Although I did feel sorry for Manny. I told him I had no grudge against him. He’s a good guy.”
The Rockats are finalizing a new album for Cleopatra Records, featuring Blondie’s Clem Burke on drums, due out early next year. Since they are planning a tour and playing in New York, Smutty has decided to keep the bass on the subway, rather than lugging it back and forth to Iceland.
“Every time we played here, Smutty always had to scramble to find a bass to use,” said Mr. Ryan, who lives in Hoboken, NJ. “It makes no sense to send it to Iceland.”
Smutty plans to visit the pawn shop when he’s in town and shake hands with Mr. Vidal, whom he’s called regularly over the past few weeks as the drama unfolded. On Monday, Smutty told Mr. Vidal that he gave the bass to none other than Mr. Ryan had to hand over. “So many people have called him and said they’re coming to pick it up for me,” Smutty said. ‘But I don’t trust anyone. Next thing you know, someone will demand $5,000 or you won’t get it back. We are talking about Jersey City here.”
Smutty has every reason to be suspicious. On Tuesday, he said, someone had hacked into his Facebook account and encouraged a well-meaning former roadie for the band to set up a Go Fund Me page to raise $3,000 to send the bass to Iceland.
After the Rockats’ gear was stolen, Mr. Vidal, then 19 and not yet working at the pawn shop, found a man with the bass, with his unusual pink and blue trim, in a garage in Hoboken. . Mr Vidal, himself a bassist, said he traded his own Fender Precision Electric for it, not knowing it had been stolen. He held it for almost 40 years, but never tried to sell it.
mr. Ryan, whose Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar was stolen along with the rest of the Rockats’ gear in 1982, plans to kill Mr. Vidal to keep an eye on his instrument. “If you see my Gretsch, give me a yell,” he said, “and we’ll start this story all over again.”