Two Sentenced for Transportation and Attempted Sale of Stolen Matisse Painting
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today’s sentencing of Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami, Florida, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City, Mexico, on charges relating to the July 17, 2012 interstate transportation and attempted sale of the stolen Henri Matisse painting, “Odalisque in Red Pants,” in Miami Beach, Florida.
At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Pedro Marcuello to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Maria Ornelas was sentenced to 21 months in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release. The defendants pled guilty on October 30, 2012 to charges relating to the transportation, possession and attempted sale of the stolen Henri Matisse painting.
According to court documents, between December 2011 and July 13, 2012, Marcuello, in a series of meetings with undercover agents of the FBI, negotiated the sale of an original Henri Matisse painting entitled “Odalisque in Red Pants,” which had been stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela, around December 2002. During these meetings, Marcuello agreed to sell the stolen painting to the undercover agents for approximately $740,000.00, and also agreed to have the painting transported by courier to the United States from Mexico, where the painting was stored. The courier was identified by Marcuello as co-defendant Ornelas. Thereafter, on July 16, 2012, Ornelas transported the stolen Matisse painting to Miami from Mexico City. According to court documents, the following day both Marcuello and Ornelas produced the Matisse painting titled “Odalisque in Red Pants” to undercover agents as part of the purported sales transaction. At the time of the purported sales transaction, both Marcuello and Ornelas knew the Matisse painting had been stolen.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the FBI Legal Attaché in Caracas and Paris, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, and the Department of Justice Attaché in Paris. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa Castrolugo.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.