Man Fined in German Amber Room Case
Feb. 21, 2000
BREMEN, Germany (AP) _ A German court on Monday convicted a notary of trying to find a buyer for a mosaic panel identified as part of the long-sought ``Amber Room'' treasure, which disappeared after World War II.
The Bremen state court ordered the 62-year-old man to pay a fine worth $25,000 for his conviction on a charge of accessory to attempted fraud. His name was not immediately available.
The 1,300-square-foot Amber Room _ named after the wall panels of amber _ was a gift from Prussian King Frederick William to Russia's Peter the Great. The panels were installed in a palace the czar built for his wife, Catherine I, in Tsarskoe Selo outside St. Petersburg, Russia.
Retreating Nazi troops looted the palace in World War II. The Amber Room's panels were moved to a castle in Koenigsburg, now Kalinigrad in Russia, but they disappeared in 1945.
One mosaic panel was found in 1997 in the possession of a man in Bremen who had inherited it from his father. The man, who also was charged in the case but has since died, claimed he only discovered what the panel was after watching a TV documentary on the Amber Room.
He contacted the notary public, asking him to arrange the sale of the treasure. The asking price was the equivalent of $2.5 million, prosecutors said.
Under an agreement with the Russian government, Bremen plans to return the mosaic to Russia in exchange for the return of 101 other works of art that were removed from Germany by the Red Army after the war, city Mayor Henning Scherf said last month. Those works are to include art by Albrecht Duerer, Manet, Goya and Toulouse-Lautrec.
The $25,000 fine is to be split evenly between the German state's treasury and the Bremen Art Center.