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Greek museum robbery nets ancient Olympic artifacts

February 21, 2012 |  7:22 am

  Armed robbers hit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, a small institution in southern Greece, stealing 77 ancient artifacts dealing with the Olympic Games
Greece apparently can't catch a break these days. In addition to its persistent economic woes, which are threatening to capsize the country, two recent high-profile art thefts have caused a great deal of head-shaking in cultural circles.

In January, the National Gallery of Art in Athens reported three works stolen, including paintings by Picasso and Mondrian. Last week, armed robbers hit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, a small institution in southern Greece, stealing 77 ancient artifacts dealing with the Olympic Games, including priceless ceramic objects, statues, jewelry and more.

The theft is apparently so embarrassing to the government that Greece's culture minister has reportedly offered to resign.

Reports have stated that the robbery took place on Feb. 17 when two armed individuals tied up a museum guard and made off with the objects.

Dimitra Koutsoumba, president of the Greek Archaeologists' Assn., told CNN that budgetary cuts to the Culture Ministry have made it easier for such thefts to occur.

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-- David Ng

Photo: The Archaeological Museum of Olympia in Greece. Credit: Dimitris Papaioannou / Associated Press

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