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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Austrian jailed for museum theft
Saliera by Benvenuto Cellini
The gold Saliera was buried in an Austrian forest
An Austrian who pulled off the country's most spectacular museum theft has been jailed for four years.

Robert Mang stole the 16th century gold sculpture the "Saliera" (Salt Cellar) from a glass showcase in Vienna's Art History Museum.

He was cleared of threatening to melt down the $65m (34.6m) masterpiece, by Florentine artist Benvenuto Cellini, unless a $13m ransom was paid.

Mang, an alarm systems specialist, said the sculpture had been easy to steal.

Mang, who described the theft as a prank, hid the sculpture in a wooden case which he buried in a forest north of Vienna.

Police recovered the figurine, which Mang stole in 2003, after he turned himself in when friends recognised his image in pictures released by the police.

Florentine artist

"La Saliera" depicts Neptune, the sea god, and Ceres, the goddess of agriculture.

The museum said at the time that Cellini's piece was the sculpture equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci's 16th Century masterpiece painting, the Mona Lisa.

The artwork was created between 1540 and 1543 on commission from King Francis I of France, commonly considered that nation's first Renaissance monarch.

It is 26cm (10 in) tall and is Cellini's only remaining authenticated gold work.


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