WASHINGTON – A $15 million Picasso, reported stolen 14 years ago by the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, was formally turned over to the French embassy in Washington on Thursday.
The painting, “La Coiffeusse” (“The Hairdresser”) was found in a shipping container labeled a “low-value handicraft” and valued at â‚¬30 euros ($33.42) by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It was part of an official inspection of a targeted shipment in December 2014 in Newark, New Jersey, according to an ICE statement.
“Picasso used to say, ‘A painting truly exists in the eyes of the beholder.’ Returning to the Musee National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, ‘La Coiffeuse’ will come back to life and be seen again by the public,” Frederic Dore, deputy chief of mission at the French Embassy, said at the transfer.
The painting was authenticated in January by two experts from the Paris museum and, according to ICE, it had been listed in the Interpol Stolen Works of Art database since its reported theft in 2001.
“As our world continues to shrink, protecting cultural treasures has become even more important,” ICE Director Sarah SaldaÃ±a said at the official transfer.
This isn’t the only Picasso piece to find itself in the possession of customs recently. Earlier this month his painting “Head of a Young Woman” was seized by French customs after a tip that it was being moved to Switzerland. The painting, said to be worth $27 million, was seized from a Spanish banking billionaire’s yacht in Corsica, with the painting being ruled a Spanish cultural asset and not supposed to leave the country. – CNN