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Oct. 4, 2022

Media Advisory: News conference and unveiling of stolen painting at University of Arizona Museum of Art

  • What: News conference on the return and exhibit of Willem de Kooning's "Woman-Ochre" after its theft from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985
  • When: Thursday, Oct. 6, 3 p.m. Media can capture photos and video of the painting beginning at 3 p.m. Remarks will be given at 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: University of Arizona Museum of Art, 1031 N. Olive Road. The remarks will also be streamed live on the university's Facebook page and on YouTube.
  • RSVP: Email Alexis Blue,, if you plan to attend.
  • Photos and b-roll

TUCSON, Ariz. — Media are invited to get an advance look at Willem de Kooning's "Woman-Ochre" – the famous painting stolen from the University of Arizona 37 years ago – and hear from some of the people who made the painting's recovery possible. 

"Woman-Ochre" was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985 and returned in 2017 after it was discovered by antique dealers in Silver City, New Mexico. The painting will go back on public display at UAMA on Oct. 8, following a complex restoration by conservators at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The following panelists will give remarks at the Oct. 6 news conference and will be available to answer questions about the painting's remarkable story.

  • Robert C. Robbins, president of the University of Arizona
  • Andy Schulz, UArizona vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts
  • Olivia Miller, interim director and exhibitions curator at UAMA
  • David Van Auker, one of the Silver City antique dealers who found the stolen painting
  • Ulrich Birkmaier, senior paintings conservator at the Getty Museum
  • Brian Seastone, retired UArizona police chief who was on the force at the time of the theft
  • Tim Carpenter, FBI supervisory special agent
  • Leo Lamas, Homeland Security Investigations deputy special agent in charge, Tucson

Also on Oct. 6, there will be a free on-campus screening of a documentary about the theft of the painting and the couple who became the primary suspects – Jerry and Rita Alter, a pair of New York City schoolteachers who retired in New Mexico. "The Thief Collector" will show at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall, followed by a discussion with film producers Caryn Capotosto, Joshua Kunau and Jill Howerton. Attendees are encouraged to reserve their free tickets in advance online.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art will be closed to the public on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 6 and 7. "Woman-Ochre" will go on exhibit at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, and the museum will be open until 4:30 that day. The museum, which is normally closed on Sundays, will have special hours from 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

General admission is $8; seniors and groups of 10 or more are $6 per person. Admission is free for museum members, children, university students and employees, active military personnel, American Alliance of Museums members, and visitors with a SNAP card or tribal ID.

More information about the painting's theft and journey back to campus can be found in the University of Arizona News article "Stolen Painting Returns Home to UArizona."

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Media contact:
Alexis Blue
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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