It's not everyday that one stumbles upon a painting worth $250,000 – especially one that was allegedly stolen just a few hours before.
But that's exactly what happened to the members of punk band Stereo Fire Empire as they left a concert at the famous House of Blues in New Orleans when they happened to notice the very paintings one of the members was just talking about, the New Orleans Advocate reported.
"Our guitar player was actually talking about how he saw on Facebook that a painting was stolen," bassist Elliot Newkirk said. “Literally five minutes later, we walked past the Rib Room on Royal Street and there were these two paintings leaning up against the wall. We were like, ‘Holy s***, it’s the blue dog painting!'" he added.
The 1997 painting is called "Wendy and Me" by artist George Rodrigue. It was stolen from Rodrigue's studio in New Orleans January 6 around 3 – in broad daylight.
Surveillance footage captured the thief walking into the studio, removing the artwork from the wall and leaving all in about a minute's time.
Once they found the stolen painting, the band picked it up being careful to conceal what was on the front of the large canvas, and took it to the police station.
“I was a little worried about that, thinking, ‘Oh man, I hope they don’t think we did it. That would really suck.’ But they were really nice with us the whole time. They were real friendly,” Newkirk said.
As for hunting down whoever stole the painting? Police said they can use DNA samples from the artwork to try to catch the thief. For now, the Rodrigue family are just glad to have the painting back safely.
“It’s so special to my family and I,” George's son Jacques Rodrigue said. “It’s really irreplaceable... priceless. Just to have this piece back, and that it wasn’t destroyed. That was our biggest fear, that someone was going to destroy the evidence and we would never see this painting again.”
The band, which did not ask for a reward after returning the painting, recorded themselves dropping it off at the police station and posted the video on Facebook:
Newkirk recalled the band later joked about writing a song about what happened.
"[W]e'll see what happens" he told the BBC.
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