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FBI recovers stolen Henri Matisse painting in Florida

A Henri Matisse painting stolen a decade ago from a museum in Venezuela has been recovered 1,300 miles away in Florida.

Matisse’s “Odalisque in Red Pants,” worth $3 million, was taken from the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum and replaced with a fake, CNN reports, although officials aren’t sure how thieves lifted the 1925 masterpiece -- or when.

On Tuesday, a man and woman allegedly tried to sell the artwork for $740,000 to an undercover FBI agent in Miami.

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City, have been charged with transporting and possessing stolen property.

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The pair will appear in court on Friday. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.

The painting of a topless woman in red pants was quite a coup -- and later, a mystery -- for the Caracas museum, which purchased the piece from a New York gallery in 1981 for $400,000, the Associated Press reported.

Museum officials in 2002 reported that the real Matisse had been stolen and replaced with a (poorly painted) fake, and no one had noticed. At that point, the phony could have been on display -- and admired by visitors -- for five years.

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