Stolen Henri Matisse recovered by FBI

19 July 2012

The painting "Odalisque in Red Pants" made by the French master Henri Matisse and stolen from a Venezuelan museum more than 10 years ago, has been recovered in an undercover operation at a Miami hotel, authorities said on Wednesday. The painting is valued at approximately $3 million.

A man and a woman who reportedly tried to sell the 1925 work "Odalisque in Red Pants" (Odalisque au pantalon rouge) to FBI agents for $740,000 were arrested and charged with possession of stolen goods on Tuesday. Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami, Florida, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The Sofia Imber museum purchased the painting from the Marlborough Gallery in New York in 1981 for $400,000. In 2003, officials at the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art, at the time named the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum, announced that the painting had been stolen and replaced with a forgery. The museum discovered the theft after it was contacted by an art collector who heard it was being offered for sale in New York.

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