On A Bus Outside Paris: Not Where You'd Expect To Find A $1M Stolen Degas Pastel


It's an incredible discovery that was recently made on a bus near Paris in the luggage compartment during a stop-over. The random check by customs officials found the beautifully colored pastel masterpiece in a suitcase. It was stolen and worth a boatload of euros or close to one million U.S. dollars. So far, no one has been arrested in the theft of Edgar Degas's "Les Choristes." None of the passengers had claimed the suitcase during the search.

The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009, according to a report by the U.K.'s The Telegrpah. The pastel piece was on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. At the time, authorities had said there did not appear to be a sign of a break in. Police suspected the theft could have been an inside job or that a visitor to the museum had hid inside until after closing to unscrew the valuable piece from the wall.

The beautiful and brightly colored artwork is from the year 1877 and displays a scene from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni." "Les Choristes" means "The Chorus Singers." The Orsay museum has confirmed its authenticity. It's conveniently sized as a smaller piece that might have been attractive to a thief because it could sit on the wall of most homes and not appear as a huge piece of art. Its little dimensions measure just 10 by 13 inches.

Edgar Degas was born in Paris and was one of the founders of the Impressionism art movement of the 19th century. He dedicated his life to studying the human form and was famous for capturing the images of dancers throughout his many paintings and sculptures.

Recovering the stolen Degas pastel in a random search could be considered dumb luck. The finding comes in time for the centenary of the famous artist’s death. The Denver Art Museum in Colorado is currently showing the works of Edgar Degas until May 20, 2018.

More than 100 works by the iconic artist are on view.

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