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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 11:34 GMT
Hermitage thief gets five years
Nikolai Zavadsky in court in St Petersburg
Zavadsky said he had sold items to buy insulin for his sick wife
A court in St Petersburg has sentenced an art thief to five years in jail for stealing dozens of artworks from Russia's famous Hermitage museum.

Nikolai Zavadsky was found to have colluded with his late wife, Larisa Zavadskaya - a curator at the museum who died last year.

Zavadsky, a history teacher, was also told to pay back 7.4m roubles ($283,000; 147,000) to the Hermitage.

Silverware, jewellery and ornate enamels were among the 226 items lost.

The losses, estimated at $5m (2.67m), were discovered last July. About half of the stolen items have been recovered.

Larisa Zavadskaya died of a heart attack shortly after the theft was discovered.

The Hermitage is home to a massive collection of sculpture, paintings and historic artefacts. It has more than 2.5 million works of art, housed in more than 1,000 rooms.

The collection includes world-famous masterpieces of Impressionist and Flemish art, and was started by Russian empress Catherine the Great in 1764.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Inside the Hermitage museum



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