Recovered Matisse returned to Venezuela

CARACAS (AFP) - A painting by Henri Matisse that was stolen more than a decade ago in Caracas and later recovered in an FBI sting was turned over on Monday to Venezuelan authorities.

The Odalisque in Red Pants disappeared from the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas after being replaced with a fake sometime between 1999 and 2002.

It was recovered in Miami Beach in 2012 in an FBI undercover operation that led to the convictions of Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, a US citizen, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, a Mexican.

"The work is in extraordinary condition, with only slight imperfections on the edges, but it is fine," Joel Espinoza, an official with Venezuela's attorney general's office, said in a televised interview from Austin Texas.

Painted in 1929 by the French master, the Odalisque has been valued at more than US$3 million (S$3.75 million).

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