“We immediately made contact with Sotheby’s, who accepted to take it out of the auction,” the museums service of the French Culture ministry told the AFP news agency.
The small pastel painting, Blanchisseuses souffrant des dents, was valued between 248,000 and 319,000 euros in the Sotheby’s catalogue.
It appears in the Orsay museum database, though not in the Interpol database, which keeps track of stolen art. The investigation into the theft has been reopened, with French police making contact with their American counterparts via Interpol.
The French Culture ministry said it will negotiate to get the painting back with the person who was selling the paintings, who "seems to be of good faith".