World News

Painting Behind a Bedroom Door Found to be Worth Millions

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WFAA recently reported on the fascinating mystery of Willem de Kooning’s painting “Woman Ochre.” The painting was stolen in1985 from the University of Arizona Museum of Art by a woman distracting the guards while a man cut the painting out of its frame with an Exacto knife, who then hid it in his coat. For decades, it was missing until Ron Roseman, of Houston, Texas, sold part of his aunt and uncle’s estate to an antique furniture store.

Once customers began recognizing the painting as a de Kooning, the store owners realized that they had something special on their hands, and they began researching about the piece. It was found to be authentic. Eventually, the FBI contacted Ron Roseman to ask him where he got the painting. He said it was once hanging behind the door in his aunt and uncle’s (Rita and Jerome “Jerry” Alter’s) bedroom. The FBI told him he wasn’t in trouble, but that the painting was actually worth $160 million, and it was stolen years ago.

Roseman doesn’t think that his aunt and uncle would commit such a crime, but there are several clues that suggest they might have been the culprits including a similar getaway car and a short story that Jerry Alter wrote chronicling a couple who stole an expensive jewel together and hid it in their bedroom. See the details of this incredible story here.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art writes that they are thrilled to have the painting back. “Woman Ochre” is part of de Kooning’s abstract expressionist “Women” series which was influenced by the work of Picasso. “In 2006, ‘Woman 3,’ another de Kooning painting in the series, sold for $137.5 million,” the museum writes.