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Buried treasure is recovered

January 24, 2006|From Times wire reports

A $60-million sculpture will go back on display at Vienna's Art History Museum next week after police arrested the thief who stole it almost three years ago and found the work buried in a forest.

The Austria Press Agency said experts had established the authenticity of the figurine over the weekend: the 16th century, gold-plated "Saliera," or salt cellar sculpture by the Florentine master Benvenuto Cellini.

The sculpture, buried in a wooden case, was found near Zwettl, a town about 55 miles north of Vienna, a museum official said. He said the thief turned himself in after police released photos identifying him as a suspect.

The 10-inch gold, ebony and enamel sculpture features a male figure holding a trident confronting a female figure. A small vessel meant to hold salt is placed next to the male figure. It was created between 1540 and 1543 on commission from King Francis I of France, commonly considered that nation's first Renaissance monarch.

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