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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.
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.
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.”