When loved ones pass, we sometimes learn more about them than we ever knew while they were living. This usually happens while we are going through their belongings and sorting out the memories that they left behind. When Ron Roseman was cleaning out his aunt and uncle’s house after they both passed away he found a piece of artwork hanging from the back of their bedroom door.
Ron’s first thought was to sell the piece of artwork so he brought it to a local antique shop and ended up selling it for $2,000.
Little did Ron know, there was a whole lot more to this particular piece of artwork than what he had expected. He later learned that it was an abstract piece titled “Woman-Ochre,” by Willem di Kooning. But the most shocking of the news was that it was estimated to be valued at $165 million. Talk about getting a deal on a painting!
The story of the painting continued when Ron was told that the exact painting was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA) over 30 years ago. Because there were no cameras in museums back then, the thieves ended up getting away with it and they were never discovered.
When the painting was in the local antique shop that Ron had brought it to, he recognized the piece and offered $200,000 for it, but the shop owners were intrigued by it so they chose to investigate it and soon Ron was receiving a call from the FBI.
“The FBI assured me that I wasn’t in any trouble,’” Ron said.
It’s unclear whether or not Ron’s late aunt and uncle were the thieves who stole the artwork and the FBI and local police department are still investigating it.
Ron couldn’t imagine that his beloved aunt and uncle would be involved in such a heist, but considering they had the painting, there is a good chance it could be them who stole it.
“My personal thought and it may be totally wrong, but when I first saw where the painting was hanging in the house — it was for their private display, not for anybody else,” said the antique shop’s co-owner, Buck Burns. “It was hung behind that door, and when that door was open, nobody could see it.”
This is a perfect example of how we never really know who someone is. People go their entire lives hiding who they are and sometimes the person isn’t fully revealed until long after they die. It’s amazing what certain belongings can say about people. They put together the story of our pasts and let others know exactly who we were at certain times in our lives.
As for Ron’s aunt and uncle…maybe they have a sordid past together and they were the Bonnie and Clyde of their time. They may have always appeared as loving, innocent relatives to Ron, but there may have been a time in their lives when they were far different than the people they were when they died. It will certainly be a fun story for Ron to find out over time.