Artwork stolen by a corrupt Brazilian banker and smuggled into the United States were seized by federal authorities and returned to the Brazilian government Tuesday.
The Roy Lichtenstein piece along with a work by Joaquin Torres-Garcia are valued at more than $4 million dollars. They had been shipped to New York by the former president of Banco Santos in Brazil as part of his multi-million dollar fraud and money laundering scheme that ripped off investors.
Federal officials said convicted dishonest banker Edemar Cid Ferreira sent the paintings to New York as part of his effort to hold onto more than $30 million in art he bought with ill-gotten gains.
U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said the art had been held "hostage" and returned the two pieces -- Lichtenstein's "Modern Painting With a Yellow Interweave" and Torres-Garcia's 'Figures dans une structure' - to officials with the Brazilian government.
"Today we return these valuable paintings to their rightful place in Brazil," said Bharara.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents helped track the missing paintings after receiving a tip from an art dealer in Connecticut, who became aware the missing art was being shopped around the East Coast.
Investigators said no one has been arrested in the U.S. for the smuggled art although the investigation continues.
Ferreira is currently serving more than 20 years in a Brazil prison for his crimes. Officials said the artwork would be put on public display once they arrive back in Brazil.