Edgar Degas artwork found on a bus near Paris nine years after being stolen

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By Yelena Dzhanova

An Edgar Degas artwork worth almost a million dollars was lifted from a Marseilles museum in the night in 2009. Earlier this month, it finally turned up — on a bus east of Paris.

French customs agents uncovered Les Choristes, or The Chorus Singers, while conducting a random inspection of a highway stop about 18 miles east of Paris on Feb. 16. The pastel artwork dates back to 1877 was hidden in a suitcase in the bus luggage compartment, according to a news release from the French Ministry of Culture.

A French custom officer holds a Degas painting stolen from a museum in Marseille nine years ago has been found on a bus near Paris, on Feb. 22, 2018.HO / AFP - Getty Images

Museum officials learned the painting was missing from the Cantini Museum in late December 2009. There were no signs of a break-in, leading police to suspect it might have been an inside job. That detail was never confirmed, however. The iconic painting, which depicts a string of men performing in famed opera Don Juan, was on loan from a Musee d’Orsay exhibition.

Upon discovering it, customs agents consulted officials from the Musee d’Orsay, who confirmed the found artwork was authentic.

Related: $1.15M Degas painting stolen from museum

Francoise Nyssen, the French minister of culture, called the finding a “happy rediscovery of a precious work belonging to the national collections, whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage.” Nyssen also complimented the customs agents and recognized their contribution in fighting “against the traffic cultural property in all its forms.”