Paris art dealer left behind S$2m painting in cab: 5 unusual items lost in taxis around the world

A Parisian art dealer accidentally left a painting worth €1.5 million in the boot of a taxi in the French capital last Thursday (April 27). The painting was eventually recovered. PHOTO: REUTERS
A Parisian art dealer accidentally left a painting worth €1.5 million in the boot of a taxi in the French capital last Thursday (April 27). The painting was eventually recovered. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Ever left something behind in a taxi?

An art dealer from Paris, in a moment of sheer forgetfulness, left a painting worth €1.5 million (S$2.3 million) in the boot of a taxi while on his way to meet a collector last Thursday (April 27).

The artwork, titled Concetto Spaziale (Spatial concept), is one in a series of abstracts by Argentina-born Italian sculptor and painter Lucio Fontana (1899 - 1968).

Police said on Tuesday (May 2) that the taxi driver was found and the painting subsequently returned.

Here are some of the strangest items people have left behind in taxis around the world.

1. A baby

Parents forget their baby in a Dubai taxi on the way to the airport.  PHOTO: KHALEEJ TIMES

Earlier this year, a couple forgot their infant in the backseat of a taxi in Dubai.

The Gulf national couple, who were visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as tourists, had left their child in the taxi when they alighted at the airport. The father told the police that he did not check the backseat, as he had assumed the child was with his wife.

The authorities then contacted the taxi driver, who was taking a break at a local cafeteria, unaware of the baby in his vehicle. He rushed back to his car and discovered the baby sleeping safe and sound in the backseat.

The child was returned to his parents at the airport, and the family boarded their flight in the nick of time.

2. An urn containing ashes of a pet dog

An urn left on the back seat of a taxi, which contained the ashes of a pet dog named Bella.  PHOTO: MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS

In 2015, British taxi firm Manchester Cars issued an appeal for help to locate a passenger who had left a small wooden chest in the back seat of a taxi.

The chest was an urn containing the ashes of a pet dog. An inscribed plate on the chest read: "Bella - 25/01/11". It was found alongside an order of service, and a black tie.

Five days after the appeal was put out, the passenger was found, and the urn was returned to him.

"We are very pleased to say that we have reunited the urn with its owner," said a representative from Manchester Cars. "He came for it after seeing the article in the paper."

3. A live python

The baby ball python was found inside a pouch tucked into a paper bag. PHOTO: ST FILE 

Closer to home, an item left behind in a taxi looked like a regular pouch for a pair of headphones - until it started to move.

A baby ball python, which is usually found in Africa, was discovered by ComfortDelGro customer service officer Gilda Mendoza in 2013 while logging items at the lost and found department.

The snake, measuring half an arm's length, was believed to have been smuggled into Singapore as an illegal pet.It was estimated to cost more than S$1,000. Animal welfare group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society took the snake back to its shelter, which houses creatures rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

4. A 5kg bag of gold bars

Taxi driver Lim Heng Long found $377,000 worth of gold bars, which was left in his taxi boot, and returned it to its rightful owner on 19 March 2009.  PHOTO: ST FILE

In 2009, Singaporean taxi driver Lim Heng Long, 64, found in his boot S$377,000 worth of gold bars.

His previous passenger, 38-year-old British jewellery dealer Hemant Soni, had forgotten to take the bag of gold bars before leaving the taxi. Mr Soni had planned to use the gold to trade for jewellery, which he would then sell in London. In panic, he went to the Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre for help.

Within an hour, the bag was found and returned. The cabby was rewarded with S$50 by Mr Somi. Mr Lim's honesty was also rewarded by his employer, ComfortDelGro, with S$200 and the Crystal Award which is given to cabbies who have performed "extraordinary acts".

5. An 18th-century cello

In 1999, world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma got into a taxi in New York City, exhausted from his performance at Carnegie Hall. Eighteen minutes later, he got out - this time, without his US$2.5million cello.

The Venetian cello, known as the Montagnana, was made in 1733 by Antonio Stradivari.

"I made a stupid mistake, and I just left without it," Ma said at a news briefing.

Within an afternoon on Oct 16, 1999, the cello was returned to its rightful owner. The sound of police cars pulling up with the precious cello must have been music to Ma's ears, as it cleared the way for his performance in Brooklyn that very night.

Sources: The New York Times, Manchester Evening News, Khaleej Times