On the left is the real Henri Matisse “Odalisque in Red Pants” (1925), on the right is the fake.

Henri Matisse’s “Odalisque in Red Pants” was recovered this July by the FBI and is now being returned to the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art.  It is unknown how the painting disappeared from the museum in 2000.  In 2002, a collector discovered that the painting disappeared, and after investigations by the museum it was revealed that the $3 million original had been swapped for a copy.

In what appears to be a sting operation, the FBI met with two individuals in Miami Beach this July to negotiate the sale of the painting.  The two, Pedro Marcuello Guzman and Maria Martha Eliza Omelas Lazo, were arrested and both plead guilty.  Guzman and Lazo were sentenced to two years, nine months and one year, nine months respectively.

The painting will return to Venezuela in the next three to five weeks.

Source: “Matisse Painting to be Returned to Venezuela Museum Where it was Stolen More than a Decade Ago,” Washington Post, February 8, 2013.