Woman Mails Pricey Photos Stolen From MoMA PS1 Back To Museum, Police Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is looking for a woman in connection to the theft of a pair of high-priced photo prints from MoMA PS1 Annex in Long Island City, Queens last month.

Police said an employee at the art center discovered two print photographs, with an estimated value of a combined $105,000, missing from the museum the morning of Monday, Oct. 30.

That Friday, employees reported to police that the stolen snapshots had been mailed back to the museum.

A police investigation uncovered surveillance video showing a woman mailing the photos in a large box from a shipping store on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the previous afternoon.

“It’s crazy, right?” said museum patron Frank Heatley.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the stolen works included a female nude. They are part of an exhibit featuring feminist performance artist Carolee Schneemann.

Museumgoers were puzzled by the theft and who might be behind it

“Maybe they were really just in love with her artwork that they wanted it for herself, and that maybe they had a change of heart and decided to mail back,” said museum patron Kelvi Diaz.

“I don’t see how you could steal from the museum and then feel guilty about it, because it’s such a dramatic thing to do,” said museum patron Natalie Bade.

Investigators said it is not clear if the mystery woman actually stole the photos.

No one from MoMA or its PS1 branch would comment on the caper.

Meanwhile, sources confirm the museum security alarm was set that night, but it never went off. Sources said it is possible somebody was hiding inside waiting for the museum to close and then pulled off the heist.

The museum does not have surveillance cameras.

“I’m shocked that they don’t, because the fact that somebody got in here to steal prints says enough that their security clearly should be a step up,” Bade said.

One artist, Jenny Morgan, said maybe the thief never intended to keep the photos.

“I would guess that it’s someone else’s own artistic reaction, if I want to go with the creative answer,” she said.

Morgan suggested that it could all be some kind of performance art – “a reaction to the performance art that she’s seeing.”

The woman seen in the surveillance video is described as white, in her twenties who was last seen wearing a dark cap, glasses, a black overcoat, tan pants, and tan shoes.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74682). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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