French customs officers find stolen €800k Degas painting on bus near Paris

French customs officers find stolen €800k Degas painting on bus near Paris
Photo: AFP
France's minister of culture was rejoicing after customs officers stumbled across a €800,000 painting by French impressionist artist Edgar Degas during a routine check on a bus near Paris.

A painting by Edgar Degas  stolen from a museum in Marseille nine years ago has been found on a bus near Paris, the French Culture Minister said Friday.

Francoise Nyssen said customs officials found the pastel — thought to be worth around 800,000 euros ($893,000) — in the luggage compartment of a bus stopped in a motorway lay by to the east of Paris.

The minister said she was delighted about the “rediscovery of a precious work belonging to the national collections, whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage.”

(The Musee Cantini in Marseille where the Degas painting was stolen in 2009.)

A statement from France's customs officers said: “On Friday February 16th  customs officers from Marne-la-Vallée carried out checks on a bus at the Ferrieres-en-Brie motorway rest area.

“They discovered  a work of art in a suitcase that carried the signature “Degas” which none of the passengers admitted to having put there.

“Officers seized the painting and asked experts at the Musée d'Orsay.”

Experts from the Musee d'Orsay in the French capital later confirmed that the depiction of a group of opera extras was “Les Choristes” — sometimes called “The Extras” — which was stolen in 2009 from the Musee Cantini in the southern port.