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Degas painting vanishes from museum in Marseille

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-31

A painting by 19th century French artist Edgar Degas has been stolen from a French museum in the southern city of Marseille. The painting by the famed Impressionist artist was on loan from the Orsay museum in Paris.

AFP - A painting by 19th century artist Edgar Degas worth some 30 million euros (45 million dollars) was stolen overnight from a French museum, police said Thursday.

The colourful image of singers performing on a theatre stage was missing when staff opened up the Cantini Museum in the southern port city of Marseille, prosecutor Jacques Dallest said.

Loaned by the Orsay museum in Paris for an exhibition featuring some 20 works by Degas, it measures 32 centimetres by 27 (some 13 inches by 10) and could have been smuggled out after being unscrewed from the wall.

"As far as I know there was no break-in," he said, adding that suspisions were focussing on an intruder, a visitor to the exhibition or an inside job.

Museum officials confirmed the theft but refused to identify the work, known either as "the chorus" or "the players".

"Its value is incalculable," one member of staff said, while city councillor Maurice Di Nocera, responsible for organising major events in Marseille, called the theft "a disaster for the museum."

The museum was closed Thursday while police pursued their investigations, including examining film from security cameras.

Date created : 2009-12-31