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Two men plead guilty in St. Louis-area art heist

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(KWMU staff)
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Among the recovered items is \"The Nightmare of the White Elephant\" by Henri Matisse.

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Two St. Louis-area men have pleaded guilty to stealing more than three (M) million dollars worth of art from a north St. Louis County warehouse.

The works belong to a Florida couple who stored them in Bridgeton during a recent move.

Among the recovered items are paintings by 20th Century artists Mark Rothko and Henri Matisse.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway says the thieves took the art to area dealers, who unwittingly sold them on consignment.

"Once the paintings were sold, one of the purchasers made inquiry as to who the rightful owner was," Hanaway said. "At that point the victims were contacted because they appeared to be the rightful owners. They then approached the Bridgeton authorities and eventually came to the FBI."

Donald Rasch of University City and Biron Valier of Creve Coeur each admitted to a felony count of conspiracy to transport stolen goods.

They must pay restitution, and face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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