US to return stolen painting to France

Updated: Dec 03, 2010, 09:53 AM IST

New York: A painting by French artist Edgar Degas stolen decades ago will be returned to the government of France after it surfaced in an auction in New York, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

The small painting, "Blanchisseuses souffrant des dents," was stolen from the Malraux Museum in Le Havre, in Normandy, France, in 1973, the Brooklyn U.S. attorney`s office said in a statement.

Dating from the early 1870s, it depicts the heads of two women and is known in English as "Laundry Women with Toothache."

The Impressionist-era canvas was discovered in an auction catalog for Sotheby`s in New York, where it was estimated at up to $450,000. The canvas had registration markings of the Louvre Museum on the back, the statement said.

The painting was consigned for sale to Sotheby`s by owner Ronald Grelsamer, a well-known New York surgeon. Prosecutors are not accusing the private owner of any crime.

The previous owner was Carle Dreyfus, a Louvre curator with a large private collection, who bequeathed it to the Paris museum. The painting was being stored at the Havre museum when it disappeared.

Bureau Report