On Thursday, November 19, students noticed that the portrait of former Director of the Union Rick Hartt was missing from the Rensselaer Union. They noticed a posting on an anonymous Snapchat account, rpi.snap, containing a photo of the stolen painting and a caption reading “When you steal dank s*** from the union [sic].” They immediately reported this finding to President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16, the Union administrative office, and the Department of Public Safety.
Hartt served as director of the Union from May 1983 until 2011, and he was revered by alumni and students alike. The portrait, a “priceless treasure” according to numerous alumni, was commissioned by Student Government and hung in the Union to commemorate all the Hartt did during his tenure.
Shortly following the discovery, then-Interfraternity Council President Jack Shiel ’16 sent emails to fraternity leaders detailing the situation and offering amnesty for the painting’s immediate return; however, the thief did not return the painting during this period.
There were no updates to the case for five days following the initial announcement, except a statement from a Union administrator and a summary of surveillance camera footage from Dvorak. The footage showed an individual, dressed in a business suit and a full-head monkey mask, swiftly entering the Union and leaving moments later with the painting.
On Tuesday, November 24, the painting was discovered leaning against the southeast wall of the Great Room in the Heffner Alumni House by an employee. It was noted that the nearby surveillance cameras would be checked and that the thief would be pursued by the Institute. No further details have been revealed to The Poly about the theft or the culprit. If any more information is uncovered, The Polytechnic will report further.