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The ‘dekooning’ that only saw from a bed

Woman-Ochre , box stolen in 1985 in an Arizona museum and valued at more than 83 million euros, reappears, hidden in a bedroom

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The ‘dekooning’ that only saw from a bed

When y were lying on bed, Jerome and Rita Alter viewed from front Woman-Ochre, one of paintings of female nudes of Willem de Kooning.If y opened door, disappeared in colorful canvas expressionist work: work, painted in 1957-1959, and with a size of one meter by 70 centimeters, remained perfectly hidden, in a space between door frame and a wall.

  • D-Day of abstract expressionism
  • 500 million dollars for two boxes

The Alter y didn't want anyone to know ir secret: y had picture of Dutch painter-american (Rotterdam, 1904 - New York, 1997) stolen by, apparently, an older woman and a young man in 1985 of museum of art of University of Arizona, in Tucson. Who lost really work and how she ended up in an eccentric house in a village of New Mexico, 360 kilometres away, is one of mysteries of recent in world of art. Among many speculations about authorship, research suggests that what made marriage Alter, Rita with your son or Jerome dressed as a woman and next to firstborn.

Woman-Ochre is valued today at more than 83 million euros. But, without knowing it, David Van Auker bought it at beginning of August for around 2,000 $ 1,675 euros. It would take little to discover that it was a dekooning genuine and that I had just put an end to intrigue that atenazaba from 32 years ago to leaders of museum and to police. “The people of farm were artists, so I thought that someone had made a copy of box. I didn't think anything more beyond that I really liked and that he planned to take him home. I had No idea that it was auntic, you account by phone Van Auker, of 54 years.

He is responsible for a store of antiques and furniture in Silver City, 50 kilometers from home of Alter in Cliff, a village of less than 300 inhabitants, on a plateau of New Mexico. After receiving a call from nephew's marriage, Van Auker visited house last August 2. Rita Alter had died, at 81, a few weeks before. And her husband, Jerome, had made in 2012, also at age 81. The nephew was one who managed inheritance and after you have chosen which objects are wanted to be put rest on sale.

expand photo 'Woman-Ochre' (1957-1959), of Willem de Kooning. THE COUNTRY

Van Auker did an inventory and decided to take everything that was re, including box, for about $ 2,000. Rose objects to ir van, and transported m to his shop. That same night he thought to take home box. Left it supported on a desktop. “The first customer who entered already said that he believed that this was a true dekooning. Of course, all laugh,” she recalls.

The customer came back a few hours later and insisted. When I had suggested four or people, Van Auker began to fidget. He began to look for information on Internet and found an article from Arizona press in 2015 on 30th anniversary of ft. Stunned, he found similarities and move to tab: he called author of article, museum of university and to FBI. After a few inquiries, a team of experts went to store and checked amazed, that Woman-Ochre had reappeared. “They wept, y were without words, y embraced each or, was a pure euphoria,” he says.

It had been repaired humiliation suffered on last Friday of November of 1985. The day after thanksgiving a couple, dressed in coats, entered museum of University of Arizona to open its doors at 9 in morning. She started talking with a security guard and he went to second floor. At 10 minutes, we marched with haste to surprise of few workers he had that day. While woman was distracting guard, man slashed canvas, rolled up and hid him in coat, according to researchers. With a box that n is valued at 335.000 euros, climbed into a car and vanished forever without a trace that could destaparles.

Van Auker says, “not for a minute” he thought to himself in keep or sell painting when it began to have hints of your value millionaire. “It is a good feeling to be able to show world that it is okay to do what is right. I hope that inspires people,” he says. The result of FBI investigation, he can't talk to family of Alter, but it predicts that were first to be surprised with finding of box: “I Think honestly that is not what y saw. The bedroom door was open probably all time.”

A family passionate about culture

The Alter were a family passionate about culture and travel, and tastes peculiar. In seventies y moved to New Mexico and built house, which included landscaped gardens and an area with sculptures and busts with pedestals of musical personalities. Jerome was a professor of music and clarinetist in New York and Rita worked on linguistic issues in Silver City. Had an inconspicuous life, according to testimony cited by newspaper New York Times. His son, Joseph, long suffering a mental disorder and is hospitalized on a regular basis. The couple wrote several books. One is a fictitious stories of travellers and has many echoes with ft of museum.


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