ART

Stolen Picasso turns up in New York

US customs officials intercept valuable work whose shipping form read “handicraft, €30"

'La coiffeuse' by Picasso was stolen from a French museum and found in New York.
'La coiffeuse' by Picasso was stolen from a French museum and found in New York.Departamento de Justicia / AP

A Picasso painting that was stolen from a Paris museum has turned up in New York after being smuggled in from Belgium.

La coiffeuse (The Hairdresser), painted in 1911 during the artist’s Cubist period, is worth several million dollars, but the shipping form claimed it was just worth €30.

The valuable artwork, which is the property of the French state, had disappeared from a storage room at the Georges Pompidou Center. The theft was noticed in 2001 following a loan request from another art center.

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A package sent from Belgium was intercepted by US customs officials and found to contain the painting and the following content description: “Handicraft / 30 E / Merry Christmas,” according to a New York district attorney named Loretta Lynch.

La coiffeuse was sent to the Homeland Security Investigations department, which investigates international art trafficking.

“A lost treasure has been found,” Lynch told AFP news agency.

“Because of the blatant smuggling in this case, this painting is now subject to forfeiture to the United States. Forfeiture of the painting will extract it from the grasp of the black market in stolen art so that it can be returned to its rightful owner,” added Lynch.