1953: Painter / Spy

Harris, Tomas, 1908-1964; Mallorca Series No.9

Tomás Harris: Mallorca Series No.9 (1953)

Tomás Harris trained at the Slade School of Fine Art and the British Academy in Rome before deciding to follow in his wealthy father’s footsteps and become an art dealer in London.

Early in the Second World War, he and his wife began working at Brickendonbury Hall, the Special Operations Executive training headquarters, where they kept house and cooked for the agents; it was not long before Harris joined MI5 himself and became the case officer of double-agent Juan Pujol García (code name GARBO). They began by establishing García’s  legitimacy with the Nazi intelligence service by having him send accurate information about the invasion of French North Africa in July 1942but having it arrive just too late to be useful. The Nazis did not suspect, and Harris and García soon had them believing that García was coordinating a network of 28 highly effective sub-agents. In 1944, they played an important role in deceiving the enemy about allied plans for the D-Day landings; Harris was awarded the OBE in 1945.

After the war he eventually settled in Majorca, where he painted and experimented with ceramics, stained glass, and tapestries.

In 1964, British intelligence was just about to interview Harris regarding an accusation that he was a Soviet spy when his car veered off the road and he was killed. Some suspect he was murdered by the KGB.

(Sources here and here.)

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