February 3, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 2°F


Staff member offers reward for leads on stolen portrait

Following the Office of Public Safety’s investigation into the disappearance of a past president’s portrait, a staff member is offering a reward for any information.

The site of the stolen painting of George C. Williams, in the foyer of Williams Hall.

The portrait of George C. Williams, which hung in the lobby of Williams Hall, was reported missing Oct. 14 and is the second painting to be stolen on campus in four years.

Investigator Tom Dunn said the office has been investigating the incident, and as of Friday there have been no leads. He said the office is holding the replacement value of the painting at $6,000.

Gail Wagner, purchasing manager at the Office of Facilities, said the painting is worth more than what Public Safety is valuing it at.

“It’s an old, historic, original that can never be replaced,” Wagner said. “If that painting isn’t found, they will get some photographs and have it reproduced to look like it did.”

Williams was the second president of the college, from 1924 to 1932. He had the name of the school changed from the Ithaca Conservatory of Music to Ithaca College.

Wagner said the last painting to go missing was of Ellis Phillips, who was president of the college from 1970 to 1975. The painting was stolen from Phillips Hall in 2008. Though a student on campus witnessed its theft, the portrait was never found and was eventually replaced. Recreating  the portrait  cost about $7,000.

The latest incident, Wagner said, convinced her to offer a reward for information on the painting’s whereabouts.

“The college has decided to not personally offer a reward,” Wagner said. “They did the same thing with the Phillips portrait, but I thought if we could [find it], I’m willing to personally offer $50 for any information, no questions asked, or if they bring the painting back and just leave it with Safety or here with me in the Office of Facilities.”

Laura Durling, assistant director of investigations at Public Safety, said not much can be done to improve security around the portraits.

“Sometimes buildings are open after hours,” Durling said. “It’s difficult to monitor that. It depends on, generically, if there’s a problem in a certain area we might do some surveillance, but added security depends on the circumstance.”

Wagner said she is disappointed with the way the situation has played out.

“We can’t point fingers at IC students,” Wagner said. “But who else would be over here doing that? It just sounds like a prank, and it’s really a shame. It’s grand larceny, plus defacing college property. It’s totally irreplaceable, and it won’t be the same.”

Anyone with information should contact Public Safety at 274-3333.