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Moscow connoisseur returns icon missing from Russian museum
Latest Updated by 2006-08-09 09:09:13
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One of the valuable icons stolen from the world-famous Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg was returned by a Moscow connoisseur on Monday (August 7), a cultural protection official told a press conference.

The icon with the image of St. Serafim of Sarov was registered under number 81. Experts said the registration number on the icon itself had been erased.

The approximate cost of the icon is 10,000 U.S. dollars, Deputy chief of the Federal Service for Protection of Cultural Heritage Anatoly Vilkov said.

The icon was one of the more than 220 artworks the museum found missing late last month. There are 107 icons, ten memorial crosses, eight silver goblets, Easter eggs, silverware, cigar cases, watches and other things among the missing exhibits.

The missing items dating back to the 18th-19th centuries were valued at 130 million rubles (5 million dollars). More than half of the missing items were incorrectly described and not photographed.

Russian cultural values are regularly banned from Sotheby and Christie's auctions, Vilkov said.

"Before prestigious world auctions, organizers search our database and check everything. At present, there are around 9,000 pieces in the database reported missing from Russian museums. Investigations continue into more than 10, 000 criminal cases related to the restitution of cultural values," Vilkov said.

Head of the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency Mikhail Shvydkoi said that the Russian museum fund numbers 50 million exhibits. Only 12.5 million exhibits have been checked for authenticity over six years.

"The incident in the Hermitage has demonstrated that the museum community is absolutely unprepared for such a situation," Shvydkoi said.

The Hermitage addressed all the connoisseurs and antiques collectors, asking them to help return the museum exhibits stolen from the museum jewelry section. Six valuable exhibits presumably stolen from the Hermitage collection have been turned over to experts for an examination.

The Hermitage's collection, started by Empress Catherine the Great in 1764, boasts prehistoric art and one of the world's finest selections of impressionist and early 20th century paintings.

Editor: Wing

By: Source: China View website
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