Three Santa Barbara sailors depart for Ensenada Mexico to take delivery of a forty-four foot sailboat named the Swan. But before they leave on their journey, one of them, an attorney named Tom slips in the crosswalk of an intersection in front of the courthouse and is temporarily knocked out. When he comes to, a man with a black hat and a soft voice is leaning over him. It is none other than the Prince of Pop himself, Jeremy Princeton, who almost hit him while riding in his limousine. Concerned that Tom may be injured, Jeremy takes Tom to his estate Tierra Bella in Santa Ynez to see his physician. There, Tom is shown two masterpieces, a Renoir and a Rembrandt, which had been stolen from the Swedish National Museum and then mysteriously shipped to Jeremy in a box of musical instruments. Along with the stolen masterpieces, Jeremy also has in his possession a mystical sphere called the Black Piper which grants the owner great wealth and power at first but eventually becomes a curse.