/ Modified aug 11, 2017 1:37 p.m.

De Kooning Painting Found, More Than 30 Years After Heist

'Woman - Ochre' was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985, a baffling mystery for police and art historians.

Ochre painting wall A recreation of a gallery scene, with the Willem de Kooning painting "Woman - Ochre" at center.
AZPM Staff

A mystery that has baffled police and art historians in Southern Arizona for 30 years has been solved. The Willem de Kooning painting “Woman - Ochre,” stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985, has been found.

In a 2015 interview, art historian Irene Romano told Arizona Public Media the painting was stolen by a man and woman who arrived at the museum just before opening time. The woman distracted a guard while the man went upstairs to the gallery and cut the painting out of its frame.

Woman - Ochre VIEW LARGER An image of the Willem de Kooning painting, "Woman - Ochre" 1954-55, Oil on canvas, Gift of Edward Joseph Gallagher, Jr.
University of Arizona Museum of Art

“The man cut the painting from the frame, must have rolled it up, rolled up the canvas, put it under his jacket, and the two of them walked out the door. Didn't take very long. It was rather easy. Security probably wasn't at its at its peak in those years,” Romano said.

The Arizona Republic reported the painting was found hanging behind a door in Silver City, New Mexico, part of a deceased man’s estate.

The museum has scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon to show off the recovered painting and explain how it was found and authenticated.

Watch the 2015 Arizona Public Media report on the 30th anniversary of the theft:

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