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    Hermitage appeals to collectors to help find stolen artwork

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    ST. PETERSBURG, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Hermitage Museum called on art and antiques collectors Friday to help find more than 200 objects stolen from its Russian section.

    The St. Petersburg-based museum, boasting one of the world's richest collections of fine art, made public the theft after a routine inventory check in late July. It said 221 items, worth an estimated 130 million rubles ($4.85 million), were missing, including icons, medieval and 19th-century jewelry, silverware and enameled objects.

    "The State Hermitage appeals to all art collectors, antiques specialists and lovers of early Russian art to help us search for and recover objets d'art listed and partially represented in visual images on the State Hermitage's Web site (http://hermitage.museum.ru)," the museum's press office said Friday.

    On Thursday, an icon resembling one of those on the Hermitage's list of stolen objects was found in a trash bin after police hunting the missing treasures received a tip from an anonymous caller.

    The Hermitage said members of the staff were likely to have been involved in the theft as only insiders had access to the museum's storerooms.

    It remains unclear when the pieces went missing from the museum's collection, totaling about three million holdings. The curator in charge of the missing items died suddenly when the check that identified the theft began, Hermitage officials said.

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