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New York City art collectors return stolen paintings to Bolivia

Backdropped by the paintings "Virgin of Candelaria," and  "Escape to Egypt," Bolivia's President Evo Morales, second from right, shakes hands with Richard Huber, right, as Roberta Huber, second from left, and Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia, watch, during a ceremony recognizing the return of the stolen art, at the government palace, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, April 9, 2015. Avid collectors, the Hubers returned the art work after learning from a museum that the two large paintings had been reported stolen from a Catholic church in southern Bolivia. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Backdropped by the paintings "Virgin of Candelaria," and "Escape to Egypt," Bolivia's President Evo Morales, second from right, shakes hands with Richard Huber, right, as Roberta Huber, second from left, and Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia, watch, during a ceremony recognizing the return of the stolen art, at the government palace, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, April 9, 2015. Avid collectors, the Hubers returned the art work after learning from a museum that the two large paintings had been reported stolen from a Catholic church in southern Bolivia. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Two colonial-era paintings that were stolen from a provincial church in 2002 have been returned to Bolivia by the New York City art collectors who purchased them unaware of their history.

Richard and Roberta Huber presented the large paintings to President Evo Morales on Thursday at the presidential palace.

The couple bought the artworks at a gallery in Brazil 12 years ago and had them restored. In 2013, they loaned the works to the Philadelphia Art Museum, which alerted the Hubers that the pieces were on an Interpol list of stolen art.

"Escape to Egypt" and "Virgin of Candalaria" were among 12 paintings stolen from a church in Potosi, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of La Paz, by thieves who cut them from their frames. The other artworks remain missing.

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