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Report: German cabinetmaker claims he restored a chest from Amber Room

May 22, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ A German cabinetmaker claims a chest of drawers he restored two decades ago was part of the legendary Amber Room stolen by the Nazis at the end of World War II, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Thursday.

The cabinetmaker, who worked in a small workshop in the German city of Leipzig in the 1970s, said he recognized the cabinet in recently published photographs of the Amber Room, ITAR-Tass reported from Berlin.

The pictures were published following the discovery in Germany of a gold-framed mosaic of marble and semi-precious stones that is believed to have been a panel of the Amber Room.

The ornate, 1,300-square-foot room was installed in a palace that Peter the Great built for his wife, Catherine I, in the village of Tsarskoe Selo outside St. Petersburg. The palace was looted by Nazi troops when they were retreating from the region.

The cabinetmaker, Johannes Elste, said that during the restoration he kept scraps of wood replaced during the work, made several pictures of the chest, recorded its measurements, and even copied a registration number from its back, ITAR-Tass said.

The director of the Tsarskoe Selo museum, Ivan Saustov, said he believed the cabinet restored by the German artist had nothing to do with the Amber Room and was part of Germany’s Dresden museum collection, ITAR-Tass reported.

But Elste says the chest from the Dresden museum was of a different size and had different decorations, according to ITAR-Tass.

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