Ceremony for the return of Camille Pissaro’s painting
Washington, The Kreeger Museum, January 25, 2012
Judy Greenberg, Director of the Kreeger Museum;
John Morton, Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);
Sharon Levin, Office of the US Attorney, in the Southern District of New York;
Tim Williams, Director of Interpol in Washington DC.
Today is indeed a great day, thanks to all of you, and it is a true privilege for my staff at the Embassy and for me to be with you on this very special occasion.
I would like to offer the Director of the Kreeger Museum, Judy Greenberg, and her staff, all my gratitude for welcoming us today to this magical place which gives this exceptional event a very special dimension.
As was said earlier, for the third time since 2011, we have the opportunity to meet and celebrate the return of a major work of art from the United States to France.
And once again, the story behind the disappearance and rediscovery of this work of art sounds in some respects like a thriller. But fortunately, thanks to a collaborative effort and to the tenacity of many people, including many here today, this thriller has a happy ending.
Picasso said: “A painting truly exists in the eyes of the beholder.” Returning to Aix les Bains, “Le marché aux poissons” will truly come back to life.
Due to the fact that Pissarro created only 24 monotypes in his career, including 12 colored ones, “Le marché aux poissons” is considered a unique work by the Impressionist master.
Thanks to the commitment and superb work of many great professionals, thanks also to this outstanding example of French-American cooperation in our common efforts to combat the illegal trade in stolen art and antiquities, “Le Marché aux Poissons” will once again be seen by the public.
Returning a painting to a museum is indeed a significant contribution to the celebration of our cultural heritage and a gift to all future visitors, but it is also another great illustration of Franco-American friendship and cooperation.
We are celebrating today a true gesture of friendship by the United States toward France, a gesture for which we are particularly grateful.
And for that, I would like to thank the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Department of Justice, and all the agents involved in protecting our cultural heritage, with a special word of thanks to the ICE Director John Morton and his team.
Through them and through each and everyone of you, on behalf of the French government, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the government of the United States.