An Albuquerque police officer searching a former drug lab came across an unexpected find.
While searching a condemned apartment abandoned two years ago after it was discovered to be a methamphetamine lab, the cop stumbled upon a portfolio with several prints in it. The well-preserved box containing 72 prints was recovered from the site and taken to a curator, who identified the art as the work of late Kiowa artist Al Momaday, who died in 1981. Turns out they're worth about $33,000.
The property was also known as a stash house for stolen goods, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
"I knew (whoever) left this property behind had no lawful reason to be in possession of this (artwork)," the unnamed officer wrote in his report last week.
Andrew Connors, the curator at Albuquerque Museum of Art and History who examined the artwork, suspects that the prints may have been stolen.
“They may have been stolen out of a warehouse or a back storage building behind a gallery or an artist’s estate,” Connors said. “We have no idea where they could have come from. Wherever it was, they haven’t noticed they’re gone yet.”
The museum will hold on to the art until the rightful owner is found, according to KOB.
The artist's son, a professor of literature at the University of New Mexico, told the Journal that he thinks the artwork may been taken when boxes containing some of his father's work changed storage facilities late last year.
Museum representatives told KOB that they reached out to Momaday's son, but that the prints aren't his.