2 charged with selling Matisse to enter pleas

Face 10 years in prison

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The original painting on the left, and the forgery on the right

MIAMI - Two people charged with trying to sell a stolen Henri Matisse painting to undercover FBI agents are scheduled to enter pleas in Miami federal court.

Arraignment was set Wednesday for 46-year-old Marcuello Guzman of Miami and 50-year-old Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo of Mexico City. Both are being held without bail and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Court records show that FBI agents posing as art dealers were negotiating the sale for $740,000 of "Odalisque in Red Pants" with Marcuello in Miami. The painting valued at $3 million was discovered stolen from Venezuela's Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in December 2002. The original 1925 work was swapped with a forgery.

Prosecutors say Ornelas brought the painting to a Miami Beach hotel from storage in Mexico City.

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