Precious painting lost in airport found in dumpster

Chief Detective Michael Dietz holds a painting from French artist Yves Tanguy. A businessman lost the canvas, which later turned up in a dumpster. (Courtesy of Polizei Duesseldorf/Duesseldorf Police)

A surrealist painting worth more than a quarter-million euros that was forgotten by a businessman at Duesseldorf's airport has been recovered from a nearby recycling dumpster, police said Thursday.

The businessman, whose identity was not given, accidentally left behind the painting by French surrealist Yves Tanguy at a check-in counter as he boarded a flight from Duesseldorf to Tel Aviv on Nov. 27.

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By the time he landed in Israel and contacted Duesseldorf police, the 280,000-Euro (about $340,000) oeuvre, which had been wrapped in cardboard, had disappeared. 

Despite multiple emails with details about the 40x60-centimeter (16X24-inch) painting, authorities could not locate the artwork, police spokesman Andre Hartwig said.

It was only after the businessman's nephew traveled to the airport from neighboring Belgium and talked with police directly with more information that an inspector was able to trace the painting to paper recycling dumpster used by the airport's cleaning company.

"This was definitely one of our happiest stories this year," Hartwig said. "It was real detective work."

A painting from French artist Yves Tanguy. (Courtesy of Polizei Duesseldorf/Duesseldorf Police)