A police officer searching a former meth lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico has discovered an illicit trove of artwork by the late Native American artist Alfred Morris Momaday. The find that was worth $33,000 or approximately £22,000 and was probably stolen, authorities believe.
The valuable prints were found last week during a protective sweep of the condemned apartment before city officials were due to board it up. Authorities say the building was deemed uninhabitable for two years following the discovery of a methamphetamine lab there.
According to authorities, the officer spotted a portfolio containing the Native American artist’s prints on the floor. The officer did an internet search for Momaday’s name and discovered he was a Kiowa painter born in Mountain View, Oklahoma who died in 1981.
The police officer concluded in his report: “Knowing this, and knowing all the history about this apartment, I knew [whoever] left this property behind had no lawful reason to be in possession of this [artwork].”
The prints were taken to an Albuquerque Museum curator who valued them at $33,000. Investigators into the work believe the art might have been stolen while on loan, and are still attempting to track the portfolio’s provenance. The artist is the father of N Scott Momaday, the first Native American to win a Pulitzer prize for literature.
An assistant to N Scott Momaday told the Albuquerque Journal that the author believes some items were stolen from him during a recent move to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although the author is yet to confirm whether the lost items included works by his father.
Photo: courtesy of Roberto E. Rosales via Albuquerque Journal