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Venezuela welcomes back stolen Matisse painting

July 8, 2014

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A painting by Henri Matisse stolen more than a decade ago from a museum in Venezuela made its homecoming Monday.

Handlers held the painting up in front of the stairs of the jet it arrived on, like an arriving celebrity, while photographer snapped pictures. Officials said a piece of national heritage has been restored without injury. The artwork, “Odalisque in Red Pants,” depicts a topless woman sitting in front of a wall.

Venezuelan authorities say the 1925 painting, valued at $3 million, was stolen from the Caracas museum in 2000. The original work was swapped out for a copy.

It was found in July 2012 when a couple tried to sell it to undercover FBI agents for $740,000 at a hotel in Miami Beach. The two were sent to prison for attempting to sell the stolen work.

The painting arrived in Caracas from the U.S. late Monday, and is to be returned to the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art.

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