Rare Audubon Prints Stolen From Louisiana State Museum
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Sixty rare Audubon prints and two by Goya were stolen from the state museum, and police issued an arrest warrant Friday for a volunteer who allegedly carried them out past the guards, officials said.
The stolen prints were brokered through dealers and ended up in France, Canada, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, state police Capt. Ronnie Jones said. Officials said they did not know how much the prints brought, but it was estimated maybe as much as $2 million.
All but one of the Audubons have been located, Jones said. The dealers apparently were unaware the prints were stolen, and have cooperated with police efforts to get them back.
Museum director James Sefcik said other prints are also missing, but the list is still being compiled because there is no accurate record of total museum holdings. Two of the missing prints were by Goya.
Michael Moskaluk, a 43-year-old volunteer at the museum, is sought in the thefts, which took place at the Presbytere branch of the museum, in the French Quarter.
Moskaluk had five previous felony convictions, including art theft, and served time in federal and state prison in Massachusetts, Jones said.
Sefcik said the thefts were discovered by the museum’s curator nearly a month ago when other prints were returned to storage after an exhibition of Audubon’s Louisiana birds. The theft was kept secret until Friday while state police investigated.
The stolen prints were apparently taken past guards during the transfer of other museum material, Sefcik said.
The Audobon prints were part of a complete set of 425 acquired by the museum 150 years ago, shortly after John James Audubon finished the so-called elephant folio of 2 feet-by-3 feet prints.