NEW ORLEANS, AUG. 2 -- A couple who allegedly stole more than 100 prints by Audubon, Goya and other artists while working as volunteers in the state art museum were arrested in Vermont, police said today.
Michael Richard Moskaluk, 43, and Romona E. Arnold, 33, were arrested Wednesday and held by the U.S. marshal in Burlington, Vt. Louisiana authorities were seeking their extradition to face at least 60 counts of felony theft.
Moskaluk was arrested after allegedly trying to sell a dealer a print by John James Audubon, the 19th-century artist and naturalist. Although the print was not one of the stolen works, the art dealer reported Moskaluk's offer to the FBI, and the tip led to the arrest, said Sgt. G. Hamilton Mixon III.
A search of Moskaluk's house revealed shipping receipts linking him to the stolen art, police said.
Police have recovered all 60 stolen Audubon prints but cannot return them to the museum immediately because they're needed as evidence, said Mixon.
Forty-eight prints and illustrations by other artists also are missing. They included two Goya prints; five lithographs by George Catlin, a 19th-century illustrator of Western Indians; and 19 scenes of Mexico or the Mexican War by Carlos Nebel. Some of those works have yet to be traced.
State police said much of the museum's art was sold through art dealers in France, Canada, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. Officials said the prints brought as much as $2 million.
The art dealers who purchased the works claimed not to know they were stolen, and will not be charged, police said.
The thefts were discovered about two months ago after an exhibit of Audubon's drawings of Louisiana birds.