Two members of the public look at some aboriginal art works to be auctioned at Sotheby's in Sydney Jully 12, 2007. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

An untitled missing painting by renowned artiste Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri worth $150,000 has been found recently in a government office after 35 years.

The missing artwork was searched for extensively after it had disappeared in 1981. The lost painting has finally been found hanging on the walls of NT Tourism chief Alistair Shields’ office.

The missing art was lent to NT chief minister's office in the late 1970s. Alistair Shields found it in the store room. Unaware of the history of the missing painting, Shields decided to hang it on the walls of the Department of Tourism and Culture office in Darwin in order to redecorate it.

“The office needed a little bit of life and colour, however, I had no idea that I was hanging a prized piece of Northern Territory art,” Shields said. “I was shocked to learn it was a one-of-a-kind Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri painting that had been missing for 35 years.” Director of Arts NT Angela Hill, who was at the office for a routine meeting, noticed the artwork, which was later identified by Territory art historian Anita Ange.

Lauren Moss, region’s minister for tourism and culture, described the event as an “unusual mode of discovery” and said, “This is a wonderful moment of luck that brings a terrific end to a 35 year mystery.”

The wall painting will be handed over to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. It will be up for display in July 2017. The missing painting shows two ceremonial men singing a bush tucker song and two other figures listening to it around campfires.