This is another chapter from the puzzle crime series I am running on my website (you can find two previous puzzles here and here). I asked a real artist to make the illustration for this one and thought it turned out very pretty, so decided to share.

The goal is to find a passcode which is a 4-digit number.

7. The Third Body

Fifteen minutes later Morrow, Flanders, as well as three other police officers were in front of the former mayor’s house. It was a large building, with its own parking lot, a fountain, and everything you could expect from an expensive, luxurious mansion. The five men tried to call Phil one last time and when nobody answered, they broke the door. It didn’t take them long before they found him lying dead in the Claptons’ personal gallery room. He was holding a red rose in his hands.

enter image description here

P.S. The text is mostly to drive the story, focus on the illustration.

P.S.S. I simplified the puzzle a bit - initially the letters on the left spelled "Love".

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I also think so. Found a girl on Fiverr which made it for just $25. I know advertising on puzzling is not ideal, but I think she may be of use for other puzzle creators here. That's her profile: fiverr.com/worldforlove $\endgroup$ – Puzzle Prime May 30 '16 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ I notice if you XOR L with columns 4-6 and E with columns 9-12, you get the numbers 5 and 7 respectively. Might that have something to do with it? $\endgroup$ – user88 May 30 '16 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZ. you are on the right track, but there is more to it. $\endgroup$ – Puzzle Prime May 30 '16 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, I just noticed that the male and female intersecting on the right side could have been a clue to the pixel XOR overlay; I didn't even think of that when trying the XOR out. :P $\endgroup$ – user88 May 30 '16 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan Alas, I am not that good at figuring out what to do here. $\endgroup$ – user88 May 30 '16 at 22:04

The number hidden in the picture is:


Explanation: After the simplification in the question (the original one featured the word "LOVE" instead of "LUST") this is what I get...

...turning upside down the 12x5 panel on the front wall, then using the word LUST as a XOR mask for it:

This is...

... the 12x5 panel, turned upside-down:
Panel upside down

This is the word I used as...

... XOR mask:

...and the result of the...

... XOR operation is:
enter image description here
the number 3274

Deeper explanation:

The pictures on the left wall suggest you must "put a 4 letters word on top" of the picture on the front wall. The first picture on the right suggest that you must turn white those squares where 2 black squares take place.
The second picture on the right gives a hint on turning upside down the 12x5 panel and on using a word in opposition to LOVE (the word used in the original question instead of LUST)

  • $\begingroup$ This is a much better answer than the other $\endgroup$ – question_asker May 31 '16 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ What was the clue to change from LOVE to LUST (I mean before the painting changed) $\endgroup$ – Fabich May 31 '16 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan This one belongs to Hunter, since he got the actual word. $\endgroup$ – user88 May 31 '16 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ Ok since everyone is happy, will do that. @Hunter - I think if you change the steps to first flipping the big painting (because the flipped heart painting) and then applying XOR (because of the XORed symbols painting), it may be easier to follow. $\endgroup$ – Puzzle Prime May 31 '16 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Artur: I'll edit my answer according to your suggestion as soon as possible $\endgroup$ – Hunter May 31 '16 at 13:36

My original partial solution was as follows:

If you use the "L O V E" at the front as an XOR mask for the 5x12 center image in the orientation "O L Ʌ E", you get:

enter image description here

which looks like a "6" in negative space, followed by 5, 2, and 7.

Of course, the numbers up there look all weird (and one of them is even in negative space) because I actually had the wrong word — the question was edited to make it clearer that the word "LUST" was what we really wanted, since nobody really got that. If we turn that word completely upside down and XOR it to the image, we get:

enter image description here

which is clearly the number "3274" also upside-down.

  • $\begingroup$ Is this on the right track? $\endgroup$ – user88 May 30 '16 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ It is definitely on the right track, I would say you are 50% there. If I gave more details from the story, it would have been much easier though. $\endgroup$ – Puzzle Prime May 30 '16 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that instead of LOVE you should try its opposite... Maybe HATE? (I tried XORing it with no success, anyway...) $\endgroup$ – Hunter May 30 '16 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ That's what I'm trying to figure out, lol $\endgroup$ – user88 May 31 '16 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturKirkoryan I was asleep when you posted that, so... give it to the other person. :P $\endgroup$ – user88 May 31 '16 at 13:22

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