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ICE RETURNS A STOLEN DEGAS PAINTING BACK TO THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT

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After it being missing for 37 years, French painter Edgar Degas’ painting “Blanchisseuses Souffrant Des Dents” was finally returned to the Republic of France.

The painting was stolen in 1973 while it was on display at the Musée Malraux in Le Hevre in Normandy, France.  In October of 2010, this painting appeared at an auction in Sotheby’s New York catalog.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately began an investigation, and it was confirmed that this was indeed the same painting stolen from France. 

ICE seized the painting and presented it to French ambassador Rivasseau this month.  Mr. Rivasseau was very happy and thanked the US on behalf of France:  “at a time when even organized crime is becoming ‘globalized,’ it’s essential that international cooperation between law enforcement agencies be as close as possible, and be supported by organizations such as INTERPOL. There is close cooperation between the specialist services of ICE and their counterparts from French Customs; this cooperation is based on the sharing of information and responsiveness.” “What we are celebrating today is a gesture of friendship by the United States towards the French Republic. And for that, I would like to thank John Morton and all of the agents involved in this great accomplishment and of course through them, I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the government of the United States.”

ICE is very involved in tracking down those who illegally import and distribute cultural property.  It has the authority to seize these works and return them to their rightful owners.  Currently, ICE has 67 attaché office around the world in order to work with foreign governments when conducting these investigations.  

To read the full article on ICE’s success in locating and returning Degas’ painting to France, please click here.  

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