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Duo jailed after trying to sell stolen Matisse painting to undercover FBI agents

\"Odalisque in Pants\" by Henri Matisse.
\"Odalisque in Pants\" by Henri Matisse.AP, file

Two people were sentenced Tuesday for their roles in the attempted sale of a stolen Henri Matisse painting in Miami Beach, authorities said.

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami was sentenced to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City received a sentence of 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer and FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Steinbach announced.

The pair pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to charges relating to the transportation, possession and attempted sale of "Odalisque in Red Pants" by Matisse, the authorities said in a statement.

It was stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in Venezuela around December 2002, they said.

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Marcuello negotiated the painting's sale for about $740,000 in a series of meetings with undercover FBI agents between December 2011 and July 13, 2012, authorities said.

He also agreed to have the work transported by courier from Mexico to the U.S., and on July 16 Ornelas took "Odalisque in Red Pants" from Mexico City to Miami, according to authorities.

The next day, on July 17, Marcuello and Ornelas produced the painting to undercover agents as part of the purported sale, authorities said. Both defendants knew the artwork had been stolen, authorities added.