French customs officers find stolen Degas painting in unclaimed suitcase on a bus

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 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 said none of the bus passengers claimed the suitcase during the February 16 search.

Experts verified the artwork as Degas' "Les Choristes" ("The Chorus Singers"), a pastel painting said to be worth €800,000 and which depicts a scene from the opera Don Juan.

The painting was taken 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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