Punk band Stereo Fire Empire have found and returned a stolen painting by Louisiana artist George Rodrigue worth $250,000 in what they described as a “Scooby Doo-like” adventure.
The 1997 painting, Wendy and Me, which depicts the artist as his trademark blue dog with his wife on their wedding day, was stolen in broad daylight on Monday from a New Orleans gallery.
In a surprising turn of events band Stereo Fire Empire had just finished a performance at the House of Blues that evening and had been talking about the stolen painting when they found it propped up against a wall – less than three streets away from the gallery it was taken from.
"Our guitar player was actually talking about how he saw on Facebook that a blue dog painting was stolen," Newkirk told local news station Fox 8. “It was weird because literally five minutes later we were walking past the Rib Room and our guitar player was like - 'what's that?'"
The painting was one of two frames propped up against a building with the only the backs of the frames visible. “I collect discarded art and things like that, even if it's just a frame I'll pick it up. I saw those canvases and had to check them out," said guitarist Evan Diez.
"I flipped it over, and not really knowing much of the details of the story I was like, 'oh it's just a blue dog print - it's cool and all, but I don't think it's worth you taking home.”
The artwork was identified by singer John Kennedy and the band walked the painting down the road to the Eight District police station where they handed it in.
They then recorded a video of themselves on a mobile phone handing the painting in in what they said was a “Scooby Do-like” adventure. “"We're currently at the police station right now. We have recovered stolen items and here we are. How crazy is that?” they said, laughing.
The painting, which was returned undamaged, was stolen at approximately 3pm in the afternoon. Jacques Rodrigue, gallery manager and son of George Rodrigue, said the brazen theft took no more than 55 seconds.
Rodrigue is famous for his depictions of the blue dog and this particular painting had strong family significance as it was used for his wedding invitations when he married his second wife Wendy in 1997.
The other painting found by Stereo Fire Empire is believed to be a print called Three Amigos which was also taken from the Rodrigue gallery.Reuse content