Police search for missing paintings in Old Main art heist

Flyers hang in the place of art around Old Main after all art was stored as a preventative measure following several robberies earlier this semester. Didi Martinez | Digital Managing Editor

By Didi Martinez | Digital Managing Editor

Bare plastic hooks line the walls of Old Main as a series of building robberies have forced officials to take several decorative paintings down.

Building officials first noticed that a painting belonging to the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures had gone missing on March 29 with no indication as to who might have committed the robbery, according to Dr. Michael Long, interim chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures .

The most recent painting stolen from the department was Victor Vasnetsov’s “The Three Knights,” but this was just one of two other paintings that have been reported missing by the department. Back in fall 2016, Robert Delaunay’s “Tour Eiffel” went missing and nearly a year later, so did Gustav Klimt’s “Ms. Adele Bloch-Bauer,” according to Long. Because of this, department officials were forced to take action this week.

“When this last one disappeared, I, in consultation with my office manager, she suggested, ‘Why don’t we take them all down, just to be safe?’” Long said. “Because to get them replaced, each one costs around $300. Three go missing, you’re already looking at $1,000.”

In an effort to protect the department’s investment of replica and original paintings, building officials took more than 88 of the remaining works of art down and have stored them in an undisclosed location. Long said they would like to bring back the works of art, but will be meeting with the Baylor Police Department Friday to consider ways to prevent further robberies.

“Baylor PD has told us that they had reviewed or were going to review tapes from the cameras to see if they saw anyone leaving with the size of one of these pictures,” said Long, who believes it unclear whether the missing paintings were all taken by the same person.

The Department of Public Safety confirmed Thursday’s robbery to the Lariat via a statement, and said they will be conducting an “ongoing investigation.”

Cost aside, for many Baylor professors, the robberies were personal.

“This is a big disappointment to all of us professors because each group of professors from each language took the time selecting these artworks for our language,” said Julia Kisacky, senior lecturer of Italian.

According to Kisacky, various professors spent months selecting artwork that would represent the Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Swahili, French and Italian languages.

“[It’s] painful to have them taken down now,” Kisacky said. “The walls are all bare and not inspirational.”

The Department of Public Safety is urging students to contact the Baylor University Police Department at 254-710-2222 or by using the BU Campus Guardian mobile app. Multiple flyers throughout Old Main are also recommending that anyone with information about the incidents call the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at 254-710-602.