In upstate New Mexico, teacher Jerry and speech therapist Rita Alter were known in their circles as a quiet, loving couple. The image they created was shattered by Rita’s death in 2017. Jerry died in 2012. A nephew called an antiques dealer to examine the valuables in their home, which had been vacant after Rita’s departure.
Antiques expert David Van Auker stumbled across a well-known painting in his bedroom. That was the painting “Woman Ocher” by Dutch painter Willem de Kooning. He thought it was a replica. Because the original painting, valued at $150 million, was stolen in 1985. The antiquary informed the curator at the Arizona Museum of Art, where the artifact is on display.
The FBI stepped in. The work has been received. Because after the painting was stolen by two people on a holiday in 1985, it was never found again. The woman distracted the guard while the man used a knife to cut the canvas from the frame.
The police had made a sketch of the robbers.
This unsolved robbery was on the FBI’s “Top 10 Crimes” list. The FBI delivered the artifact to the museum. Authorities were surprised that the couple had kept the work at home to this day and had not attempted to sell it.
Experts say that “art theft for pleasure is rare,” and they believe the pair are passionate about excitement. The story of this couple has been made into a documentary called The Thief Collector.