This US Couple Shock World With Rs 1,223 Crore Art Heist

The Harwood Museum is urging anyone who may have information on the whereabouts of the two missing paintings to come forward.

May 11, 2024 - 19:15
This US Couple Shock World With Rs 1,223 Crore Art Heist

An elderly couple from New Mexico, Jerry and Rita Alter, who lived a seemingly ordinary life, are now suspected of being behind a daring art heist in the 1980s, according to The Metro. The couple allegedly stole a Willem de Kooning painting worth around 120,000,000 pounds (Rs 1223.16 crore) from an art museum in Arizona.

After Jerry's death, the stolen painting was discovered hanging behind their bedroom door. The FBI is now investigating their involvement in multiple art thefts and trying to track down two other paintings that were also found in their house, as per the news report.

The Alters, despite having modest incomes, were able to travel extensively around the world. Their nephew informed the FBI that Rita had a large sum of money in bonds before her death.

The Metro reported that Rita had more than $1,000,000 in bonds before her death, while her salary was only around $16,000. Their wealth had been reportedly built up from various inheritances.

Investigators believe the couple may have been responsible for the theft of two other paintings from the Harwood Museum of Art in New Mexico in 1985. The FBI is currently working to locate these paintings.

One of the stolen paintings was eventually returned to the museum in Tucson after it was spotted by eagle-eyed customers at a local charity shop. The other two paintings are believed to have been sold at an auction in Arizona.

The Harwood Museum is urging anyone who may have information on the whereabouts of the two missing paintings to come forward.

Juniper Leherissey, executive director at Harwood's, told the Taos News: "I don't know if they've since been sold to that buyer, but likely someone purchased them and has been living with them for many years. Hopefully, they'll recognise that they belong to the Harwood and give them back."

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