Stolen Matisse Painting Recovered In Florida More Than A Decade Later

By Jessica Grabert 2012-07-21 10:21:37
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It seems to be a summer for returning nearly priceless works of art back to their rightful owners. Last month, a man walked out of a shop with a Dali painting tucked into a bag, later returning the item via the post. Now, a Matisse painting has been returned to a museum in Caracas, Venezuela. However, the pair responsible for the missing painting were less keen to turn it over this time around.

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo were arrested on Tuesday for possession of a painting that had been stolen some ten years ago from the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum in Venezuela. The 1925 painting “Odalisque in Red Pants” was stolen sometime after reaching the contemporary art museum in 1981 but at the time of the theft was replaced with a modestly clever fake, which was not discovered until 2003.



According to The Daily Mail, the couple were arrested when they tried to sell the painting to undercover officers in Florida. They will head to a U.S. court on Friday where they could spend up to ten years in prison. There’s no word on whether the couple know anything about the actual theft of the painting, so many years ago. There is evidence they were trying to get rid of the painting quickly, as it is worth $3 million and they were only asking $740,000 for the painting.

It’s always nice to see a priceless work of art returned to a space where the public can enjoy it, but how did the theft go unnoticed for at least five years? That seems to be the real mystery, and maybe Guzman and Lazo will be able to provide us with a few of the answers.
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