A Mind boggling Mystery – The Case of the Stolen Degas

Photo Caption: Les Choristes, by Edgar Degas

A famous and very valuable painting, by the 19th century French artist, Edgar Degas was stolen nine years ago. It was mysteriously found on a bus in Paris last month.  

A happy find, but what an absolute mystery!

The pastel painting, Les Choristes (The Chorus), is a picture of men singing. This painting had been stolen from the Musée Cantini in Marseille, France, in 2009, while it was on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.  The painting dates back to 1877 and is worth £700,000! Last month, it was found in the luggage compartment of the bus that had stopped at a service station near Paris.  None of the passengers claimed the painting. 


Who was Edgar Degas? Edgar Degas (born, Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas – 1834-1917) was a very famous French artist who was part of the Impressionist movement.

Photo Caption: The Dance Class, by Edgar Degas

Some famous works by Degas –  Degas loved to paint dancers and beautifully managed to capture the movement of the dancers in his painting. His very famous paintings are the Dance Class and Ballet Rehearsal.  Degas also made several sculptures including his famous bronze sculpture of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. 

What is Impressionist art? This was a revolutionary art movement that had started in the 1860s.  These paintings used bold colours, played with light and showed people in candid poses. The community of Impressionist artists included many famous painters like Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Camille Pissarro.

Back to the return of the stolen painting – Whodunit?  This is something many teams of detectives have not been able to figure out as yet! At the time it was found to be stolen, it was initially thought to be an inside job since there was no sign of a break-in. After an investigation though, this was ruled out. Now it is a double mystery

  • who stole the painting and how?
  • how did this painting managed to safely pop up on that bus quite out of the blue, and why did the person who put it there want to give it up?

What do you think?  Can you think of what you would do to solve this mystery if you were a detective?     

Written by: Purnima Thacker, a keen art admirer, nature enthusiast, intellectual property lawyer and mum to a curious 8 year old.

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