It was part of an official inspection of a targeted shipment in December 2014 in Newark, New Jersey, according to an ICE statement. It’s believed to have been stolen from the archives of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2001.
A spokesman for Spain’s Civil Guard said four police experts in national heritage and several Culture Ministry officials flew to recover the painting, “Head of a Young Woman”, which is valued at 24 million euros ($26 million).
“We are committed to extracting stolen cultural property from the grasp of the black market and restoring it to its rightful owners”, said Kelly Currie, US federal attorney for the eastern district of New York.
Two distinct Pablo Picasso paintings, one from his Rose Period and the other a Cubism work, threw the intrigue of stolen art and of antiquities with disputed ownership into the spotlight this week.
“It’s truly priceless [and] so meaningful – not just to your country, but to the world”, ICE director Sarah Saldana said at the handover ceremony. It was last displayed in 1998 in Munich.
The painting, La Coiffeuse, or The Hairdresser, had been discovered by U.S. authorities in a climate-controlled warehouse in New Jersey.
“The painting will be stored in a warehouse of the museum until we know more about its destiny”, a museum spokesman declared. “Returning to the Musée National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France, [La Coiffeuse] will come back to life and be seen again by the public thanks to this outstanding Franco-American customs cooperation”.