NEWS

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January 28, 2005

Theories swirls as Ida Noyes remains missing

Investigators have come no closer to identifying a suspect or motive since last Saturday, when University administration discovered a portrait of Ida Noyes missing.

Tim Banks, associate director for facilities and event services at Ida Noyes Hall, was first alerted of the incident last Saturday, when the event staff for the International Food Festival noticed that the painting was missing. The incident is being treated as a theft, and both the University of Chicago Police and the Chicago City Police are investigating.

According to Banks, the thieves cut the painting out of the frame, and escaped, leaving the frame behind.

The Chicago Police Department sent a team of experts to dust for fingerprints on Saturday, but Banks said he has received no word of any possible leads. Banks remains puzzled by the case. "If it's a prank, it's not really one that can be taken back," he said, referring to the damage already done to the painting.

Sharlene Holly, director of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA), noted that the University has a number of portraits with alarms, and while the stolen painting was not alarmed, the frame was very securely attached to the wall. "That's why they had to cut it out," she said.

Holly still views the theft as a possible prank. She emphasized the responsibility of students to inform the police of anything they learn regarding the theft. "There are thefts that happen on campus every day," Holly said. "Someone leaves an office unlocked, or a book bag unattended—[it's] mostly personal items," she noted, casting robberies as a reality of living in an urban setting.

Banks said that ORCSA has held meetings to discuss how the theft may have happened, and how to prevent similar occurrences in the future. Suggestions offered at the meeting included increasing staff numbers and the frequency with which a security guard makes his rounds. Banks said that the University will wait to hear back from investigators before they make any policy decisions.

Banks and his staff are considering replacing the stolen painting with a portrait of another woman from the Judd family. Interestingly, the possible replacement was itself recovered from a robbery 10 years ago, Banks said.

University administration believes the painting was stolen in the hours between Friday night and Saturday morning, which raises the concern that although Ida Noyes Hall closes at midnight on Friday and Saturday, the Pub is open until 2 a.m. on those days.

Victor Vogt, the Pub's chief bartender, said that no one from the administration had come to speak to him about the robbery. "It's alarming, but that painting can't be of any value to anyone here. It's probably a prank," he said. When informed that the painting had been cut out of its frame, Vogt was surprised. "If it's a prank, then it's a bad one. If it's vandalism, then it's stupid," he said.