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Wealthy Georgina Van Aster, whose primary interest in life is horses, decides to sell the celebrated "Asterville Venus," a painting that has attracted people from around the world to the quaint New York town of Asterville. As the painting is the only thing of prominence in Asterville, managing editor Nash of the Asterville Clarion , plans to start a fund to buy it for the town's new library. Mrs. Van Aster, however, refuses to sell the painting to anyone locally because of a dispute with townspeople regarding damage to their property because of her fox hunt. Nash plans with reporter Tim Wilson, whose primary interest is flirting with women, a way to procure the painting. After Dutch cheese manufacturer Hugo Tannenberg, offers Mrs. Van Aster $100,000 for the painting, which he says he may use as a trademark for his cheeses, Tim goes to talk with befuddled art connoisseur Rendleby, a former curator at the Metropolitan Museum who now runs a curio shop in Asterville with his daughter Margaret. When Tim sees Margaret at the window of the shop, he immediately falls in love with her, and after paying an organ grinder to play a waltz, he dances with Margaret into the parlor. Rendleby, who is awed by the painting, readily agrees to intercede with Mrs. Van Aster. That night, a burglar, Joe Smiley, sneaks into the Rendleby shop. After Rendleby tells a police officer, who had been following Smiley, that Smiley is a guest, Smiley, in gratitude, gives Rendleby his address and offers his services anytime Rendleby needs them. Mrs. Van Aster refuses Rendleby's request that she keep the painting and sells it to Tannenberg. Margaret, when she learns this and sees Tim's elation, rebukes him. Rendleby then finds Smiley and arranges to go with him to steal the painting. Smiley, who, when casing the place, fell for the advances of Mrs. Van Aster's chambermaid Belle, cuts the painting out of its frame. As the police search for clues, Tim deduces from his conversation with Belle that Smiley is the culprit and tells the police sergeant, but then finds Rendleby admiring the painting at his shop. When Smiley, with the police in pursuit, comes to the shop, Tim hides the painting, but the police find it. Tim convinces them not to arrest Rendleby until Tannenberg identifies the painting and then instructs Tannenberg to claim that it is a fake. After the police leave, Tim reveals to Margaret that Tannenberg was hired by the newspaper to buy the painting and that Rendleby can now present it to the library. While Tim is on the phone to Nash, Margaret apologizes, and as Nash yells at Tim, he and Margaret embrace.