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Stolen University of Arizona painting on display at The Getty

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 00:37:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Woman-Ochre was stolen from the University of Arizona’s Museum of Art in 1985. It was painted by Willem De Kooning in the 1950s.

Vice President of the Arts at the University of Arizona, Andy Schulz, says, “every work of art is created and then it has a history.”

This can especially be said about Woman-Ochre. The painting hadn’t been seen for 32 years.

Schulz says, “the case had reached cold case status. Out of the blue one morning in the spring of 2017, President Robbins got a phone call from an FBI field officer letting him know the painting had been found.”

But when it was found, it had suffered some damage over the years.

Schulz says, “so the thieves literally had to rip it off the lining and so it was one piece of canvas being removed from another and then the piece was rolled up so what happened was all these thin fine lines of cracking of paint occurred.”

The University of Arizona selected the Getty Conservation Institute to help restore the painting. Part of that deal was that once it was restored, The Getty would display it at the museum in Los Angeles. Today the painting went on display.

Woman Ochre is expected to make its return to Tucson in October. Schulz hopes its unique story will attract people to the museum.

“The theft, recovery, and restoration, those are all interesting chapters in the life of this artwork,” says Schulz.

He adds, “it does create a certain type of aura around this painting and I think people will come to the museum to see the work and understand that story.”

Woman-Ochre is set to be on display for the public to see this fall.

Heidi Alagha is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Heidi spent 5 years as the morning anchor in Waco where she was named the best anchor team by the Texas Associated Press. Share your story ideas and important issues with Heidi by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.