Buck Burns thought nothing of returning a painting he found in his New Mexico furniture and antiques shop.“For us, it was the equivalent of finding a lost wallet and returning it. It was a no-brainer,” Burns told The New York Times.
The lost wallet was Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre,” stolen in 1985 from the University of Arizona Museum of Art. It could be worth around $300 million, based on the price paid in 2016 for another de Kooning work.
“‘Woman-Ochre’— one of a number of Abstract Expressionist paintings that Mr. de Kooning did of women in the 1950s — was stolen on the day after Thanksgiving in 1985,” noted The Times. “There was no surveillance video, but investigators pieced together a rough narrative of the theft that began with a man and a woman following a staff member into the museum around 9 a.m.”
Meg Hagyard, the museum’s interim director, was quoted as saying: “The best way I can think to describe it is that it’s sort of like Cinderella’s glass slipper. We had the original frame and remnants, and we were able to match the painting with that. It fits like a glove with the canvas.”
The painting was actually returned by store owner David Van Auker, who had phoned the FBI after learning the story of the painting that was part of an estate sale.
How will Arizona officials thank him?
“We’re so excited to take him to dinner and to toast him,” Hagyard said.
— Arizona State Museum (@AZStateMuseum) August 11, 2017
— mitchell riley (@azjourno) August 11, 2017
VIDEO: UA police chief relives 1985 theft of de Kooning painting pic.twitter.com/sAJkYtsG1t
— azcentral (@azcentral) August 11, 2017
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