I have been meaning to write about this since it happened but unfortunately this was about the time I went on vacation, so I am a little late in mentioning this somewhat old news. I must say not only am I quite intrigued by the recovery but also impressed that the painting has found its way home. On August 13, 2015, the United States returned the long lost, $15 million, Pablo Picasso painting to France with an official handover ceremony at the French embassy in Washington. Every now and then, the good guys win. Someone was certainly doing their job on this one.
La Coiffeuse or The Hairdresser was painted in 1911 and is an oil on canvas Cubist work valued now at approximately $15 million. In December 2014, U.S. Customs officials at the Port of Newark discovered the painting in a package sent from Belgium described on the shipping slip as “art craft” and insured for roughly $37.
According to Kelly Currie, acting US attorney for the eastern district of New York, customs officials became suspicious because the package, shipped as a $37 Christmas gift, was addressed to a climate controlled warehouse. The package was seized by Customs and Border Patrol and turned over to Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Investigations unit of U.S. Customs has returned more than 7,800 items to their home countries since 2007, the agency said in a statement.
Fourteen years after its reported theft from a Paris museum, “La Coiffeuse” by Pablo Picasso was returned home.
The repatriation ceremony was held at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement director Sarah Saldaña officially transferred the painting over to the Frédéric Doré, deputy chief of mission at the French Embassy.
“The recovery and return of stolen artwork and other cultural artifacts remains a significant priority for ICE,” Saldaña said. “We’re so glad that it’s going to be shown to the world again,” Saldaña told reporters.
Upon authentication by two experts from the Paris museum, arrangements were made to return it to the French government, the rightful owner. Previous art repatriations to France have included works by Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro and Andre Breton.
So interesting and so inspiring right?