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[BKARTS] Police move to solve decades-old theft of rare documents from Denmark's Royal Library

Police move to solve decades-old theft of rare documents from
Denmark's Royal Library


COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 10 ? In a breakthrough on solving a 25-year-
old crime, investigators have uncovered 1,600 antique books, maps and
documents stolen from Denmark's Royal Library. Four suspects also
were detained, police said Wednesday.

The thefts of the works, worth millions of dollars, started in the
late '60s and stopped in 1977-1978, said Erland Kolding Nielsen,
director general of the state-owned library.
       ''It is without any doubt one of the largest thefts of
cultural artifacts in Denmark, ever,'' he said.
       Over the years, some 3,200 rare books and documents ?
including first editions by Immanuel Kant, Thomas More, John Milton
and several hundreds prints by Martin Luther ? had disappeared from
the downtown library.
       Until recently, the Royal Library and the Danish police were
without a clue in the theft of the works, dating from the 16th
century to the 18th century.
       A breakthrough came ''in Britain some months ago when a number
of valuable works ... were sent to an auctioneer,'' the head
librarian said. He said the items were worth between $323,000 and
$488,000, but gave no other details.
       The Royal Library was alerted, identified the books and
contacted Danish police.
       Copenhagen Police spokesman Henrik Svindt said 1,600 of the
missing books and other items had been rounded up in Denmark and
elsewhere. He did not identify the suspects, or reveal how many books
had been sold or who bought them.
       The investigation with the Royal Library started three months
ago and is ongoing, said Svindt, who refused to comment on media
reports that three of those in custody included the widow of a former
Royal Library worker, her son and daughter-in-law.
       The 68-year-old widow reportedly was arrested when she tried
to sell some of the documents through an auctioneer, the newspaper
Politiken reported. Her husband, who died last year, worked for
decades as a philologist with the Library's Oriental Collection.
       Besides first editions by More, Milton and Kant, the stolen
documents also included atlases by Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu.
       The Royal Library, housed since 1999 in a smoked glass-and-
steel building known as the Black Diamond on the city's waterfront,
has existed as a national library and a museum since 1648 and as the
main library for the University of Copenhagen since 1927.




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