The Hidden Paintings
of Shirley A. Mason...  Sybil


The information below is provided for provenance and authenticity of the artwork shown here, and to provide full disclosure of the site owners and their purpose for creating this site.


Our purpose for creating this site is simple...

  • To tell the story of the collection of hidden paintings Shirley Mason left locked in the basement of her home in Lexington, KY
  • To share these paintings with anyone interested in Shirley Mason's story that may visit this website
  • To promote the use of art as therapy, as Shirley Mason did throughout her life as an artist and art teacher
  • To sell limited numbered collector prints to promote the collection and cover the costs of maintaining this site

Authenticity and Provenance Links    ( click links in orange )

The hidden paintings are discussed at length in the documentary shown on the Home Page, which was produced in conjunction with Warner Brothers'  30th Anniversary Special Edition of the 1976 movie Sybil  DVD set

Several pieces of the Hidden Collection were used in the Lifetime Channel 2007 remake of the movie Sybil, which includes the finding of the hidden paintings in the opening scene and in the final scene, which also shows several of the paintings.

2007 Sybil Remake  -  Part 1 of 8    ( Finding the locked cabinet - first 1:40 mins )

2007 Sybil Remake  -  Part 8 of 8       ( Finding the hidden paintings - starting at 8:35 )


The attached letters show an agreement between Dr. Wilbur, Flora Schreiber and Shirley Mason for the book Sybil, and two of the publishers' commitment to keep Shirley Mason's identity secret.  (Note - "Sylvia" was one of the original names contemplated for the book.)

The 1943 Katonian (Mankato State Teachers  College yearbook) shows Shirley Mason, a sophomore, was one of two art editors on the yearbook staff, and the Fine and Applied Arts section has a picture of Shirley standing at her easel working on a painting very similar to Entrapment - one of the hidden paintings.

The attached program from the 1944 Joslyn Art Exhibition shows Shirley Mason as receiving recognition for her two watercolors  -  The Wash ( #89 ) and Impression of Port Arthur ( #90 ) - both of which are part of the hidden paintings collection.

Site Owners

James A. Ballard  ( Lexington, KY ) - Jim Ballard purchased the complete collection of hidden paintings, with all attendant rights and privileges, at an auction in Lexington in 1998, and spent the next 17 years researching Shirley Mason and the story of Sybil, promoting the artwork, and offering the collection for exhibition.  Mr. Ballard sold the individual artwork in the collection at auction in 2015, shortly before his death in 2016.

Brian Neil Wheeler  ( Pembroke Pines, FL )  -  Brian Wheeler was born in Dodge Center, MN (Shirley's hometown), and is a cousin of Shirley Mason.  Brian came to learn about the hidden paintings in his genealogy research in 2009 and has spent the time since researching Shirley Mason and working with Mr. Ballard to help promote the collection.  Brian is the owner of seven (7) paintings from the collection, as well as a self portrait of Shirley, painted during the time when she was living in New York and receiving therapy from Dr. Wilbur ( sic. 1954 - 1965 ).

Contact us at


Nancy Preston  ( Newark, OH )  -  Nancy Preston was a close personal friend of Shirley Mason, and kept in contact with her right up to Shirley's death in 1998.  Nancy first met Shirley when she was an art student of Shirley's at Rio Grande College in 1971.  They became life long friends, and Nancy was one of the few people, outside of Dr. Wilbur and Flora Schreiber, that knew Shirley was in fact Sybil.  Nancy has published her own book, After Sybil... From The Letters of Shirley Mason, telling of their friendship through Shirley's letters. For additional information about Nancy, her relationship with Shirley and her book, please visit

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