Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a member today »

The painting was left behind by a traveler at a check-in counter. (edit by the author for Hyperallergic)

The Germans are not much for Surrealism, apparently. A painting by the French surrealist artist Yves Tanguy, reportedly worth over €250,000 (~$340,000) was trashed by a cleaning crew at Düsseldorf Airport after being left behind by a traveler. It was recovered by German police last week, found at the bottom of a recycling bin.

The owner, a businessman in transit to Tel Aviv, forgot the painting at a check-in counter at the airport in November. Upon landing in Israel, he contacted German authorities, who were unable to locate the 16-by-24 inch, cardboard-wrapped work. Its whereabouts remained unknown until the man’s nephew traveled to Düsseldorf and reported the work missing at a local police precinct, where it was investigated and eventually recovered by inspector Michael Dietz.

Dietz contacted the airport’s cleaning company and, along with the airport’s property manager, led a thorough search of recycling containers.

“Sure enough, the valuable painting was right at the bottom,” said Düsseldorf Police in a statement reported by AP.

Support Hyperallergic

As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever. 

Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

Become a Member

Valentina Di Liscia

Valentina Di Liscia is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I am not shocked at all because I had just gotten off a plane one time and discovered I had left a portfolio of art in the overhead bin in business class and asked the crew and the desk people to please retrieve it for me and was told it was impossible. I said, But I just got off the plane, just have someone go get it for me! They said, sorry, mam, impossible. I called on my brother-in-law who was a pilot on that airline to help me and still was unable to get my work back, I was told it had been thrown out. What if it were gold jewelry, I asked, because this is just as valuable for me. Sorry, they said, that too would be thrown out. (No way, I thought.) I never saw the work again. A fellow traveler, seeing my distress said, “Don’t worry, you’ll do it again and you’ll do it better.” And I did. But airlines definitely do not care a bit about art, and won’t lift a finger to save it from the trash, even Yves Tanguy’s, it seems. They did not see a price tag- only a strange old painting.

Leave a comment