Today FBI agents recovered a stolen Matisse, “Odalisque in Red Pants,” valued at around $3 million, from two suspects who were trying to sell it to undercover agents in Miami Beach. The painting is believed to have been swapped with a fake at the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in Venezuela in 2002, but the fake was convincing enough that museum personnel didn’t realize the theft until 2003. Mexican nationals Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, are charged with transportation and possession of the stolen painting, and could each face up to 10 years in prison. Marcuello allegedly set up the sale at the Loews Hotel, acknowledging to undercover agents his knowledge that the painting was stolen, and Ornelas brought the painting from Mexico by plane.
In another story a stolen Salvador Dali painting, “Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio,” valued at about $150,000, was returned in late June to the Venus Over Manhattan gallery in June. The theif posed as a potential customer, and took the painting from its mount, stuffed it in a bag and left the gallery. The guard did not notice until the man was gone. The painting was returned the the U.S. by air from Greece. It was intercepted by police at U.S. Customs, and returned to the gallery. There are currently no suspects in the theft, though the entire heist was captured by surveillance cameras.