German police recover precious painting lost at airport: 'Real detective work'

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Whew.

Police officers in Germany have recovered a precious painting lost at Düsseldorf Airport, tracing clues to find the work of art in a dumpster.

An anonymous businessman recently flew from Düsseldorf to Tel Aviv, and accidentally left behind a surrealist painting valued at $340,000 at a check-in counter, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.  

Chief Detective Michael Dietz poses with the recovered painting by French artist Yves Tanguy.  (Polizei Duesseldorf via AP)

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By the time the traveler landed in Israel and contacted police in Germany, the painting by French artist Yves Tanguy – which was wrapped in cardboard – had disappeared.

Though the traveler is said to have sent a flurry of emails with details about the 16-by-24-inch painting, authorities had no luck in locating the lost item.

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From there, the businessman’s nephew visited the airport from nearby Belgium and shared even more info about the art with law enforcement, determined to find the precious piece. At last, an inspector was able to successfully track down the painting, which had made its way to a recycling dumpster used by the airport cleaning company.

“This was definitely one of our happiest stories this year,” police spokesman Andre Hartwig said of the good news. “It was real detective work.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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