A Picasso painting missing from Paris for more than a decade resurfaced in the United States, where it had been shipped under false pretences as a $37 holiday-themed “art craft”.
The 1911 painting “La Coiffeuse,” which translates to “The Hairdresser,” was unearthed in December in a FedEx shipment from Belgium to Newark. The canvas had been smuggled out of a storeroom of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Paris museum and arts center.
On Thursday, Loretta E Lynch, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, filed a civil complaint to forfeit the Picasso and return it to France. Its shipping papers described it as a $37 “art crafttoy” and also read “Joyeux Noel,” French for “Merry Christmas.”
When federal customs and border protection officials examined the shipment, they found the master artist’s work.
The oil painting is owned by the French government; to the National Museums of France by one of its former directors. It was last exhibited in Munich in 1998, and then returned to Paris, where it was stored at the Pompidou. They declared the painting, then valued more than $2.5 million, stolen.
On December 17, someone going by “Robert” with an address in Belgium shipped the painting to a climate-controlled warehouse in Long Island City. The next day, the painting arrived at the Port of Newark and was seized.
French museum officials came to New York last month to examine it and confirmed that it was “La Coiffeuse.”