U.S. returns stolen Picasso to Paris An officer stands guard next to Pablo Picasso's painting entitled "La Coiffeuse," Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, at the French Embassy, in Washington. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned the painting, valued at $15 million, stolen in 1998 and was seized in December 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. returns stolen Picasso to Paris
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The U.S. government has formally returned a painting by Pablo Picasso. It is valued at $15 million. It had been stolen from a Paris museum more than 10 years ago. The painting was seized by immigration officials late last year in New Jersey.
 
During a ceremony at the French Embassy, Sarah Saldaña returned the artwork. She is director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The embassy is in Washington. The painting is titled "La Coiffeuse" or "The Hairdresser." It was signed over to Frédéric Doré. He is the Embassy of France's deputy chief of mission.
 
"There is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when we return a piece of art like this," Saldaña said.
 
The painting was on its way from Belgium to the New York borough of Queens when it was identified and seized in Newark, New Jersey.
 
Kelly Currie is the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She said the package stirred suspicion. That is because it was heading for a climate-controlled storage facility - a peculiar destination for a package carrying French words suggesting it contained a $37 Christmas gift.
 
Currie said the speed with which government agencies handled the case was "unprecedented."
 
"The United States is not an easy market for black-market smuggling of art and antiquities," he said.
 
Details of who sent the package and how the painting was stolen were not provided. The investigation continues. Currie said no arrests have been made.
 
Picasso is considered one of the greatest artists. He painted "La Coiffeuse" in 1911. The brownish Cubist painting is no bigger than a pizza box. It sat on a tan easel wrapped in plastic and sat behind a burgundy rope for the whole event.
 
In November 2001, officials at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris discovered the artwork was missing from storage. They had gone to get it in preparation for a show in India.
 
Officials gave no suggestions when the painting will be returned to the museum. The painting had suffered minor damages and will have to be restored.
 
"The message from ICE today is, 'This is a part of our mission, a part of the work we do,'" Saldaña said. "You saw some tremendous investigative work in detecting this piece to begin with. And we will continue to do so."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Which clue tipped off officials?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • camdenc-ver
    8/21/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    I am glad that the painting was returned. That kind of work belongs in a museum!

  • madhur-was
    8/24/2015 - 12:23 a.m.

    Critical thinking challenge: Which clue tipped off officials?
    There were was one really important clue which tipped off the officials. The clue was discovered when a package worth only 37 dollars was being shipped into a climate controlled storage facility. When the officials saw the package they got suspicious about the odd package.

  • p1-ryan-pen
    8/24/2015 - 09:11 a.m.

    Wow, once pieces of expensive art get stolen, they usually never come back! The Immigration officers in this article were probably tipped off by the fact that a package with french words on it was going to a climate controlled facility! The officers in this story fit the archetype of a hero, this is because they had something stolen and they worked through a tough situation to get it back, just like the heroes in those old fairy tales!

  • p1-preston-pen
    8/24/2015 - 09:12 a.m.

    The clue was that the painting was missing from the storage as they were getting it prepared for a show in India. This story has different types of archetypes. Like a hero, Sarah Saldana would be the hero in this story because she got the painting and returned it to the museum. Another one would be a villain, and whoever stole the painting would be this villain.

  • John0724-YYCA
    8/25/2015 - 07:28 p.m.

    Well it is very kind for the U.S to return the fabulous painting back to France because if they didn't and someone found out then they would have been in big trouble by France. I hope that now France doesn't do anything horrible to us because someone from the U.S stole the picture right. At least we returned the picture.

  • daizypd-ols
    8/26/2015 - 09:11 a.m.

    The clue that tipped the officials off was that a French Christmas gift for $37 was heading to a climate-controlled storage facility but it was nice.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    8/26/2015 - 09:06 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing for Sarah SaldaƱa to have found and given the Pablo Piccaso to the U.S. government. I believe that Paris is happy to have found the Pablo Piccaso since it is a rare artifact. Hopefully the painting will never be stolen again.

  • davidc-nar
    8/27/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    I wonder if the French will reward the U.S. for returning the stolen painting.

  • caytiem-bro
    8/27/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    Its really sad how certain people stole a work of art like that, and that the U.S. look like the bad guys, but im glad the art is being returned.

  • allyb-ver
    9/01/2015 - 07:30 p.m.

    I wonder why the French did not realize it was missing as soon as it was stolen. I also wonder why the lady did not turn in the painting earlier than she did.

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