ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A lifetime of work, gone in an instant. An artist is devastated after a thief drove off in his car. Inside the car, art that he spent years creating. The artist says someone came into this art gallery and swiped his keys without him knowing.
Surveillance video shows an unknown woman carrying a random set of keys, and she eventually takes off in a car that isn’t hers. “If you’ve got the keys, you’ve got the alarm. You’ve got it all,” says Roberto Salas.
She drove off in a Honda Pilot full of paintings and sculptures belonging to artist Roberto Salas.
The artwork was for another exhibit at the South Broadway Cultural Center next month. “When you have something that you create, that you put together, that you have it to show the public, that’s the big loss,” Salas says.
The University of New Mexico grad is based in Texas now, but Salas says he comes back to Albuquerque to host workshops and exhibitions. “In general, Albuquerque is an incredible place,” Salas says.
Last Friday, he had an opening at Remarque Gallery in Nob Hill. As things started to wind down, he realized he was missing something. “My keys weren’t there…It just seemed odd,” Salas says.
Salas says he left them on a desk in the gallery, but was never able to track them down. “I walked out the parking lot, we were going to have dinner close up the gallery, and my car was not there. It’s just the most incredible empty feeling,” Salas says.
Salas says he hopes whoever took the car will just dump it, so he can get his art back. “The car, I don’t care, but this many years of work, there must have been eight paintings in there,” Salas says.
Even though the loss is devastating, “I still have faith in Albuquerque,” Salas says. The value of the artwork is about $60,000. The artist says he will use different paintings for the July exhibit.
The owner of the building says the woman in the video isn’t someone he’s ever seen before. Salas filed a police report, but so far no arrests have been made.