A painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso has been recovered by Turkish police in Istanbul in an undercover operation, the state-run Anatolia news agency has reported.

The painting in question is the 1940 work, Woman Dressing Hair, and is of his longtime muse and lover, the photographer Dora Maar. She is depicted in an enclosed and compressed space with large feet, sunken ribcage and typically distorted face. It is supposedly a representation of a person trapped in the anguish and terrors of war.

The painting appears to have originally been owned by the New York art collector Louise Reinhardt Smith, who died in 1995. After her death it seems the paintings ownership was given to the Moma, where it was leant out for exhibitions such as a travelling exhibition from August to November 2012 at the Tate Britain, the National Galleries of Scotland and was on display for a time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. However some reports claim it had been stolen from an as-yet unknown collector in New York and it is unclear when exactly it was stolen. Sadly, in the intervening years the painting has been badly damaged.

Turkish police reportedly underwent a month long operation after tip-offs that Turkish businesspeople had been contacted by the prospective sellers. The police then posed as potential buyers for the painting, and met the prospective sellers at a Hotel in the city and then on a yacht on the Istanbul marina.

It has been revealed the suspected thieves initially demanded $8 million for the painting, but after a little haggling from the undercover authorities, they settled at $7 million. The officers then took two males – currently known as A.O and M.E.O – in to custody; and the damaged canvas was recovered and revealed at a press conference on Saturday.

The painting has been sent to Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University for examination, Anatolia said.

* * Update * *

After further investigation this piece went on to be confirmed as a ‘copy’, read more here.