The Art Loss Register has achieved one of its greatest coups with the recovery of a stolen painting worth more than £18 million.

Bouilloire et Fruits by the impressionist artist Paul Cezanne was looted from the Bakwin family in the United States in 1978.

It remained missing until the family contacted the ALR in December 1998.

Unleashing its considerable expertise in tracing stolen works of art and valuables, the ALR was able to achieve stunning results.

Liaising with US and other international police forces, staff at the New York and London-based ALR, managed to recover the painting almost a year later in October 1999.

A Bakwin family spokesman said: "After 20 years, the family had given up all hope of this picture being returned. They are very grateful to all those, and particularly the ALR, who achieved the recovery."

The recovery was one of the ALR's most significant successes in terms of value. Last year, it returned Monet's Waterlilies valued at £3.7m to its rightful owners. The painting entered the French National Collection after World War Two.

The ALR has traced more than £62m worth of stolen works of art including paintings by Rubens, Picasso and Old Masters.

The Cezanne was sold last December at Sotheby's auction house for £18.15m.