In this Sept. 17, 2019, photo, Carlos Vecchio, an exiled politician who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, points to a blank section of a wall where artwork once hung inside the Ambassador's residence in Washington. U.S. officials are investigating the possible looting from Venezuela of valuable European and Latin American artwork they believe is being quietly plundered by government insiders as Nicolas Maduro struggles to keep a grip on power. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Vecchio said. “If this is what they’ve managed to do with some artwork at a single diplomatic mission, you can imagine what they’ve done inside Venezuela.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

AP Exclusive: US helping Venezuela's Guaido track stolen art

September 19, 2019 - 11:50 am

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — U.S. officials are investigating the suspected looting of valuable European and Latin American artwork they believe is being quietly plundered by Venezuelan government insiders as Nicolas Maduro struggles to maintain his grip on power.

The U.S. Treasury has sought the cooperation of the FBI, Italian police and experts to identify and locate the missing artwork. Among the objects being traced are three Venezuelan masterpieces that hung for decades on the walls of the ambassador's residence in Washington but were nowhere to be found when opposition leader Juan Guaido's envoy took over the diplomatic mission in May.

The paintings are the only ones unaccounted for. But there are fears many more could be missing as Venezuela's dire economic situation takes its toll on the country's once prized collections.

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