A baffling artwork-stealing scandal was solved on Tuesday, according to an article in the New York Times. The object of interest: Matisse’s Odalisque in Red Pants, which was stolen from the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas more than ten years ago. The confusing part: the museum didn’t even know it had been stolen until a gallerist in Miami called them in 2002 because someone was trying to sell him the painting. When officials inspected the painting of the woman in the scarlet trousers, they discovered they had a fake on their hands—a pretty bad fake, too. And it had been hanging in the museum for upwards of two years.
Fast-forward to 2011, when the museum again found out about someone peddling the missing painting. F.B.I. agents pretending to be buyers struck up a conversation with the seller and made a deal to purchase the piece for $740,000. When the agents met the sellers last week to make the hand-off, they inspected the painting and made their arrest.
Think that’s crazy? Apparently a 2001 inventory check at the museum noted fourteen missing pieces (not including the Matisse), nearly all of which were never found. Sounds like someone needs to up the ante on their security guards… may we suggest these guys?
Read the New York Times article in its entirety here.