Stolen Artworks from French Museum Returned After Three Decades
Stolen Artworks from French Museum Returned After Three Decades ICE/handout

An artwork by famous impressionist Camille Pissarro, which was stolen about three decades ago, has been returned by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The piece, titled "Le Marche aux Poissons" (The Fish Market), was given back to French Ambassador Francois Delattre in Washington by the authorities.

It was in the year 1981 that the artwork was stolen from the museum in south-eastern France. According to reports, the museum guards saw a man walking out with the work hidden under his jacket. Following this, the piece was sold to J. Adelman Antiques and Art Gallery in 1985 which in turn sold it to the Sharan Corp.

After the dissolution of the company in 1992, one of the company owners reportedly showcased the artwork in her home for around a decade.

According to the Washington Times, when the owner consigned the work to Sotheby's, the New York auction house, to offer "Le Marche" for sale in 2003, French investigators spotted the work in the catalog valued at $60,000 to $80,000 which also mentioned Guelton and alerted the ICE.

The ICE later instructed the auction house to withdraw the painting from sale and declare the work forfeit.

The piece is a greeting-card sized work and is a one-of-a-kind print made by painting on glass and then transferring the wet paint to a piece of paper.

The return of the artwork on Wednesday was staged in the hall of a Washington museum filled with other French impressionist works, including some by artists who were inspired by Pissarro.