Showing posts with label Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Show all posts

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prison Terms Ordered in Matisse Art Theft Case

Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks today ordered prison time for the pair charged with illegal possession, transportation, and sale of Henri Matisse's Odalisque in Red Pants.

The federal court in the southern district of Florida sentenced Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman to 33 months incarceration followed by three years of supervised release.  Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo was sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Click here for details about this theft, swap, and fence art crime, which tells of the missing painting from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undercover investigation that recovered the masterwork.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grand Jury Hands Up Indictment in Matisse FBI Sting

A federal grand jury in the southern district of Florida (Miami) handed up indictments on Tuesday against a pair with alleged ties to the stolen Henri Matisse painting, Odalisque in Red Pants.  The grand jury charged Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo with a three count indictment.

The indictment alleges that on or about December 1, 2011, Guzman met with an undercover  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent an agent and a confidential informant (CI) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation "to discuss the sale of the Henri Matisse painting 'Odalisque in Red Pants' which had been reported stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas (MACCSII) in Caracas, Venezuela in or around December 2002." Guzman allegedly gave the CI a password four days later to access an email file containing photographs of the artwork.

Talks continued to work out the payment and transfer of the painting, and Lazo allegedly agreed to transport the stolen artwork from Mexico to the United States. A transaction date of July 17, 2012 was set up where both cash and a wire transfer totaling $740,000 would purchase the painting.

Lazo flew from Mexico City to Miami International Airport on July 16 carrying a red tube that contained the Matisse painting.  She then met with the undercover FBI agent and a second one "posing as an art dealer" in order to close the deal.  Arrests followed.

A July 19, 2012 press release issued by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and the FBI Miami Field Office reported that the painting is valued at $3 million.

Guzman and Lazo are each charged with conspiring to transport and sell stolen property (18 USC 371), interstate transportation of stolen property (18 USC 2314), and possession of stolen property (18 USC 2315).  They face potential maximum penalties of five years in prison on the conspiracy count, ten years on the transportation count, and another ten years on the possession count.

Prosecutors also filed a criminal forfeiture action under 18 USC 981(a)(1)(C) in order to gain custody of the painting.  Both the criminal and forfeiture cases are docketed at 12-CR-20559.

An indictment is simply a process of bringing persons into the court process.  The defendants in this case are presumed innocent unless the government proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. CONTACT:

Monday, June 21, 2010

FBI Art Program Presentation in NYC

Theft, Fraud, and Forgery: Cultural Property Crime in the U.S. and the FBI Art Theft Program

When: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Where: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019

Art crime is a multi-billion dollar endeavor that affects collectors, dealers, galleries, museums and artists world-wide. The FBI has investigated these crimes for many years, and five years ago established the Art Crime Team to develop a cadre of Special Agents trained specifically in art crime investigations. Although spectacular thefts from major museums capture the headlines, most art thefts in the U.S. are residential burglaries and art fraud is even more rampant. This talk will cover federal jurisdiction, elements of the U.S. criminal statutes, international treaties and conventions, as well as case studies of recent investigations. Basic strategies for protection of collections will also be covered.

Bonnie Magness-Gardiner
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner is Manager of the Art Theft Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Art Theft Program was established after the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2004. Dr. Magness-Gardiner coordinates the work of 13 special agents assigned to various geographic regions, and manages the National Stolen Art File. She received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. After teaching archaeology for five years, she entered government service as program manager for the Archaeology Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities then became a program manager for the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. For eight years she was the Senior Cultural Property Analyst for the Department of State, implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention against illicit traffic in cultural property. She also served as the program manager for cultural heritage restoration projects in Iraq. She has been with the FBI since 2005.

Registration Fees:

VLA Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $200
Non-Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $250

Attendees must register before July 20th and be on the security list to attend. Seating is limited to 30 people. (There is an additional $25 fee if you register after July 15th.)

*3.0 CLE credits, 1 Professional Practice, 1 Skills and 1 Ethics (Approved for Non-Transitional and Transitional Attorneys)

To register and for more information, please see this registration form, or register via phone at 212.319.2787 x1. For more information please contact VLA's Kathleen Mallaney at 212.319.2787 x12, or via e-mail at

This event is organized and sponsored by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.