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Latin America art seized in Germany

May 01, 2008

MUNICH, Germany -- Munich police said Wednesday that they had seized a large collection of Aztec, Inca and Maya cultural artifacts that Costa Rican authorities said were illegally removed from their country.

Art theft specialists from Bavaria's criminal investigations office estimate that the collection, which includes about 1,000 masks, necklaces and statues, is worth $100 million, said Ludwig Waldinger, a spokesman for the office. Waldinger said that Costa Rican authorities appealed to Germany last week to help find it.

An art collector from Costa Rica who says he has a right to possess the art recently brought it from Latin America to Bavaria by way of Spain. The collector, whose identity has not been released, is not in custody but could face criminal charges if it is determined that he is not the collection's rightful owner, Waldinger said.

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