It is “definitely one of our happiest stories this year”, a police spokesman told reporters, after a missing painting worth €280,000 (£253,218) was retrieved from the bottom of a recycling bin.
The owner of the work by French surrealist artist, Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) is an unidentified businessman. He accidentally left the piece in a cardboard box at the check-in counter of Düsseldorf Airport at the end of November 2020. It was only when he boarded his flight for Tel Aviv that he realised he had forgotten it.
On arrival in Israel, he attempted to contact Düsseldorf police in an effort to locate the abstract landscape, whose title has not been disclosed by the authorities. Despite diligent searching, the work was nowhere to be found.
All was not lost though. The nephew of the painting’s owner travelled from Belgium to Düsseldorf to report the painting missing at a police precinct near the airport. Fortunately, the case landed on the desk of Inspector Michael Dietz.
The breakthrough came when Inspector Dietz contacted the cleaning company that maintains the airport terminal. Inspector Dietz, the cleaning staff and the airport’s facility manager went searching through the airport’s recycling containers. Lo and behold, they found the valuable artwork right at the bottom of one of the containers.
Police spokesman Andre Hartwig told reporters how delighted they were with the result. “It was real detective work”, Hartwig mused. A family member of the owner was reunited with the painting shortly afterward. 2020 has been a lucky year after all for at least one relieved art owner.