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 valued at $15 million. It had been stolen from a Paris museum more than a decade ago. The painting was seized by immigration officials late last year in New Jersey.
 
During a ceremony at the French Embassy, Sarah Saldaña, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, repatriated the abstract artwork. It 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's 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, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the package aroused suspicion. That's 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 weren't provided. The investigation continues. Currie said no arrests have been made.
 
Picasso painted "La Coiffeuse" in 1911. The brownish Cubist painting, which is no bigger than a pizza box, sat on a tan easel wrapped in plastic and situated behind a burgundy rope for the duration of the event.
 
In November 2001, officials at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris discovered the artwork was missing from storage when they went to retrieve it in preparation for an exhibition in India.
 
Officials gave no indication when the painting will be returned to the museum and said it had endured minor damages and would 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 (16)
  • mckaylas-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    I think it is crazy that we would return a painting over $15 million. I say we should have kept it and put it in our own museums. It would have made us more money.

  • jacksonh-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    I wander who stole the painting, and why they sent it to the US. I would have sent it to like china or some other country.

  • laneys-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    That the package it was in said it was a 37$ christmas gift and that is what they found . The package was heading to a climate controlled storage facility.

  • jasminpd-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    The fact that the package said it was a $37 dollar Christmas in French. Kelly Curie thought that it was suspicious and reported it to the law. They then got the painting back and gave it to the museum that thought it was "art work." Which its not!!!

  • tycenb-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    I think it was nice that we returned a 15 million dollar painting. Also it is a little surprising that we did return a painting worth this much.

  • karlees-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    The clue that tipped off officials was that it was apparently a Christmas gift that was in a climate controlled area and its destination was making the officials question themselves.

  • keatonm-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    I think that they shouldn't have the painting back because they let it get stolen. And if they do get it back they need to get better security guards.

  • briannar-1-ols
    8/24/2015 - 05:53 p.m.

    I think that it is good that we sent back the $15 million painting back to Paris. The painting was on its way to form Belgium to New York and was identified and taken back to Pairs. Sara SaldaƱa took the $15 million painting back to Paris

  • Steve0620-yyca
    8/25/2015 - 07:17 p.m.

    I think that it is very fortunate that the painting was returned after being stolen a decade ago. There was some suspicion from an attorney when the package was heading for a climate controlled destination. The people were very relieved when the stolen painting was found and I would be too if I were them.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/01/2015 - 10:01 p.m.

    I am glad that the painting was taken back because if it was sold in the black market, then no one would know of its whereabouts. Also, it cannot be copied since Pablo Picasso is not alive anymore. The painting is very precious since it is 100 years old so it needs to be well preserved.
    Which clue tipped off officials?
    Answer: One clue is that officials saw a package that was headed towards the climate-controlled storage facility with a sign that said that it was a $37 Christmas gift.

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