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Nephew Discovers Deceased Aunt's Painting Worth Millions - Then Gets A Call From The FBI

Ron Roseman, of Houston, Texas, was devastated when he lost his aunt and uncle, Rita and Jerry Alter. However, when Mr. Roseman was clearing out Rita and Jerry’s house, he discovered a painting hanging behind their bedroom door that revealed a side of his relatives he never knew existed.

When Mr. Roseman first discovered a painting hanging in his deceased relative’s bedroom, he thought nothing of it and took it, along with most of their other belongings, to an antique store. After receiving $2,000 for the image, Mr. Roseman thought he scored a bargain, however, little did he know, the painting was actually worth a lot more.

The painting, which turned out to be an abstract titled “Woman-Ochre,” by painter Willem di Kooning, has an estimated value of approximately $165 million. Ron was even more surprised after he received a call from the FBI. “The FBI assured me that I wasn’t in any trouble,’” Mr. Roseman stated, before revealing the reason for their call.

The painting Mr. Roseman gave away for $2,000 caught the eye of another buyer in the shop, who offered a huge $200,000 for it. However, curious about the painting, the owner investigated the image and discovered that the painting was an original stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA) more than 30 years ago. After contacting authorities, The FBI wished to ask Mr. Roseman if he knew how the painting came into his aunt and uncle’s possession.

While Mr. Roseman assured authorities that he could never imagine his relatives committing such a crime, Buck Burns, co-owner of the antique shop, thought otherwise. “My personal thought and it may be totally wrong, but when I first saw where the painting was hanging in the house — it was for their private display, not for anybody else. It was hung behind that door, and when that door was open, nobody could see it.”

“I felt like a deer in headlights," Mr. Roseman said in an interview with WFAA. “It's my favorite aunt and uncle. You know, I couldn't imagine … (the) scenarios running through my head and where could they have possibly found this painting.”

The piece was allegedly stolen the day after Thanksgiving in 1985 by a mystery man and woman, who were said to have “distracted the museum security guard at the base of the stairs, while the man walked upstairs and used a blade to cut the painting from its frame.”

“The painting is believed to have been rolled up, and tucked under one of the thieves’ coasts, as they hurried out of the building.” The couple, pictured in sketches as a blonde-haired woman and a dark-haired man, sped off in a “rust-colored two-door car,” and were never to be seen again.

Meg Hagyard, the interim director at UAMA, confessed that “it was always a concern that the painting has been destroyed and didn’t exist anymore,” before adding, “to have it recovered just a mere few hours from us is an incredible thing. To realize that possibly all of this time it was just a short drive away.”

Source: AWM
Photo: WFAA

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