Punk Band Stereo Fire Empire Discover and Return Stolen Painting Worth $250,000
Punk rockers, New Orleans natives and fine art enthusiasts -- this is your introduction to Stereo Fire Empire, who just made international headlines for recovering a stolen painting. Roughly five minutes after reading about a $250,000 George Rodrigue painting which had gone missing, Stereo Fire Empire guitarist Evan Diez found himself face-to-face with the piece of art at the New Orleans House of Blues.
The painting, 'Wendy and Me,' was stolen from George Rodrigue Studios on Jan. 6. at roughly 3PM. The art thief simply lifted the picture off a wall and walked out with it -- the incident being captured on camera.
Photos of the thief circulated online, passing by the eyes of Diez just in time for him to identify the stolen painting. "Our guitar player was actually talking about how he saw on Facebook that a painting was stolen," bassist Elliot Newkirk tells the BBC. "Literally five minutes later" he found the canvas and "his jaw dropped."
SFE singer John Kennedy adds, "His face was ghost white -- jaw dropped, like, 'You don't understand -- this is a $250,000 piece of artwork.'"
The band grabbed 'Wendy and Me' along with another print named 'Three Amigos' and brought the prized pieces to a nearby police station. "We're walking down the street with these quarter-million-dollar paintings in our hands, and they're facing out and I'm like, 'No! Turn that around! We don't want people seeing that,'" Newkirk said.
Stereo Fire Empire documented the return of both pieces to police in the video above.
George Rodrigue passed away in 2013, but the artist's son Jacques thanked Stereo Fire Empire, "We're so thankful to the good Samaritans for bringing it back."
The painting was incredibly important to the artist, who used the artwork for his wedding invitations when Rodrigue married his second wife, Wendy, in 1997.
The art thief has yet to be found, but police plan to use DNA fingerprinting techniques to track him down. Listen to Stereo Fire Empire's music on the band's Facebook page
George Rodrigue, 'Wendy and Me'
Photos of Thief Stealing 'Wendy and Me'