CAIRO — Egypt’s culture minister Saturday retracted his claim that police had recovered a Vincent van Gogh painting stolen from a Cairo museum, saying it was based on inaccurate information and that the search for the canvas continues.

The minister, Farouk Hosni, said earlier Saturday that police had confiscated the painting from an Italian couple at a Cairo airport hours after it was lifted from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in the Egyptian capital.

But he later backtracked, telling a national television news program that “the statement was based on information we received that was false and incorrect.” He said authorities are still searching for the painting, which goes by two titles – “Poppy Flowers” and “Vase with Flowers.” Hosni said the piece is valued at around $50 million.

It was not clear what caused the confusion over the artwork’s fate, and officials couldn’t be immediately contacted to clarify.

Thieves first made off with the canvas in 1978; authorities recovered it two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.

Authorities never reported whether the thieves were charged or tried.

The 12-inch-by-12-inch canvas, believed to have been painted in 1887, resembles a flower scene by the French artist Adolphe Monticelli, whose work deeply affected van Gogh.

Most of the works for which the Dutch-born van Gogh is remembered were painted in 29 months of frenzied activity before his suicide in 1890 at age 37.