PHOENIX — More than 30 years after it was brazenly stolen from an Arizona museum, a painting by Willem de Kooning reportedly worth $100 million is going on display back where it all began.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson is throwing a fundraiser and homecoming party of sorts for “Woman-Ochre” on Sunday before it gets whisked away for months of restoration work. For some who worked at the museum when the painting was stolen in 1985, the celebration still seems surreal.

Lee Karpiscak, who was the curator of collections at the time, recalls the entire staff feeling devastated. “We tried to be realistic about it,” she said. “All these scenarios go through your head and make you crazy. We certainly hoped it would be returned.”

It was the morning after Thanksgiving when authorities said a man and a woman showed up at the museum. A security guard and students working the front desk were the only ones there, according to Karpiscak. Police said the woman distracted the guard with small-talk while the man cut the painting right out of the frame, leaving edges of the canvas still attached. The entire heist lasted around 15 minutes.

Then in 2017, a furniture and antiques dealer in Silver City, New Mexico, bought the painting at an estate sale. When researching the piece, he discovered an article about the theft. He notified the museum. A conservator with the university found it to be a perfect match.

The furniture dealer had gotten the painting from the estate of Jerry and Rita Alter. The artwork had been hanging in their Cliff, New Mexico, home. Relatives also discovered a photo of the couple taken Thanksgiving Day 1985 in Tucson. Jerry Alter died in 2012 and his wife in 2017. Authorities have never publicly called them suspects.