US returns $15 million Picasso painting stolen from France

The U.S. government has formally returned a painting by Pablo Picasso valued at $15 million that had been stolen from a Paris museum more than a decade ago and seized by immigration officials late last year in New Jersey.

The director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sarah Saldaña, officially repatriated the artwork, titled “The Hairdresser,” during a ceremony Thursday at the French Embassy in Washington.

The painting was on its way from Belgium to the New York borough of Queens when it was identified and seized in Newark, New Jersey, last December.

Officials say the package aroused suspicion because it was heading for a climate-controlled storage facility. That seemed to be a peculiar destination for a package carrying French words suggesting that it contained a $37 Christmas gift.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal