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French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

This photo taken Thursday Feb. 22, 2018 and provided by French Customs shows a stolen painting by French painter Edgar Degas. French customs have discovered an original Impressionist masterpiece by Edgar Degas stolen in 2009 – in a suitcase on a bus. (Marc Bonodot / Associated Press)
This photo taken Thursday Feb. 22, 2018 and provided by French Customs shows a stolen painting by French painter Edgar Degas. French customs have discovered an original Impressionist masterpiece by Edgar Degas stolen in 2009 – in a suitcase on a bus. (Marc Bonodot / Associated Press)
Associated Press

PARIS – French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.

The French Culture Ministry said Friday that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature “Degas” inside a suitcase in the bus’ luggage compartment. The ministry says none of the passengers claimed the suitcase during the Feb. 16 search.

Experts verified the artwork as Degas’ “Les Choristes” (“The Chorus Singers”), which depicts a scene from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009 while on loan from Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she was delighted by the recovery of a work “whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage.”

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