Former Museum Executive Offers Thief $25,000 to Return His Parents’ Ashes

The urns were stolen from Bill White's SUV.

Bill White. Photo: Leandro Justen/PatrickMcMullan.

The former head of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Bill White has told a thief who stole several personal items from his car that he can keep them as long as he returns the cremated ashes of his parents, which were kept in bronze urns.

The well-connected philanthropist and former museum executive’s SUV was stolen and burgled on November 2, after he loaded the vehicle to take his belongings to his office the following morning. According to the New York Times, the eclectic list of stolen items also includes over 100 designer neckties, a fur coat given as a gift from the Onassis family, and a 1977 New York Yankees World Series winner’s ring.

White told the Times that he felt his belongings were safe because the vehicle had tinted windows and everything inside was covered.

The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Courtesy of Deror avi, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Courtesy of Deror avi, via Wikimedia Commons.

“This is the tale of three idiots, and I’m all three of them,” he told the newspaper. “Like an absolute idiot I’ve left my car on the street for 15 years and never had it broken into.”

White kept the Intrepid afloat amid financial difficulties during his five year tenure before unexpectedly resigning due to an attorney general’s investigation into his fundraising activities for a former state comptroller. The former museum president is well known in political circles and hosted a star-studded fundraiser for Barack Obama in 2014.

When White realized his vehicle was stolen, he used his connections to call former police commissioners William J. Bratton and Ray Kelly and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. Thanks to political expediency, White’s vehicle was recovered only two days later, albeit empty.

“I’m just trying to get my parents back,” White said. “The other stuff you, you can live without… I’m in a state of depression over it,” he admitted. “If he’s just returning the urns, then I will not press charges, and if he wants $25,000, I’ll give it to him.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics