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German Museum Piece Falls Victim to Cleaning Lady

A cleaning woman at a German museum who mistook a sculpture for an unsightly mess has destroyed the valuable artwork beyond recognition, a spokeswoman for the western city of Dortmund said Thursday.

The cleaner at the city's Ostwall Museum went to work on the Martin Kippenberger installation entitled "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling" which was valued by insurers at 800,000 Euros ($1.1 million), she said.

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Police Recover Two Stolen Paintings by Dutch Masters

Police recovered two stolen paintings by Dutch masters and handed them back Thursday to the provincial museum they were stolen from five months ago. Three suspects are in custody, police said.

The 17th-century paintings, a depiction of two laughing boys by Frans Hals and a forest landscape by Jacob van Ruisdael, were snatched from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in the central town of Leerdam in late May.

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Grisly Theory for Holy Land Mystery

A newly proposed solution to an ancient enigma is reviving debate about the nature of a mysterious prehistoric site that some call the Holy Land's answer to Stonehenge.

Some scholars believe the structure of concentric stone circles known as Rujm al-Hiri was an astrological temple or observatory, others a burial complex. The new theory proposed by archaeologist Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska links the structure to an ancient method of disposing of the dead.

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Klimt landscape fetches $40 million in New York

A landscape by painter Gustav Klimt that was stolen by the Nazis then returned this year to the family of the Jewish owner sold for a huge $40.4 million on Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York.

The painting, "Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee)," easily topped its pre-sale high estimate of $25 million at the impressionist and modern sale.

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UNESCO Chief Calls on U.S. to Find Way to Continue Funding

UNESCO's Director General Irina Bokova called on the United States Wednesday to find a way to continue funding the U.N. cultural agency after Washington stopped its financing for admitting the Palestinians.

"I call on the U.S. administration, Congress and the American people to find a way forward and continue support for UNESCO in these turbulent times," Bokova said in a statement in which she detailed the agency's work.

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Degas Bronze Ballerina Fails to Sell in NYC

A bronze sculpture of a young ballerina by French Impressionist Edgar Degas has failed to find a buyer at Christie's New York auction of impressionist and modern art.

"Little Dancer Aged Fourteen" had a pre-sale estimate of $25 million to $35 million. The auction was Tuesday night, but there were no bids.

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Biology Professor Wins France's Top Literary Prize

A biology professor has won France's top literary prize for his first novel, which deals with France's colonial wars in Algeria and Southeast Asia.

Alexis Jenni, 48, received the prize Wednesday for "L'Art Francais de la Guerre" — "The French Art of War."

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Rare 16th Century Book Stolen at Frankfurt Fair

Thieves stole a rare 16th-century Portuguese book estimated to be worth 18,500 euros ($25,500) at the world's biggest book fair here last month, police said Wednesday.

Written in 1542 by Portuguese humanist philosopher Damiao de Gois, a friend and student of Erasmus, the 30-page book is entitled "Hispania damiani a goes equitis lusitani".

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NYC Artist Returns to Gallery Where she Gave Birth

Marni Kotak gave the performance of her life when she gave birth to baby Ajax in a New York City art gallery turned home birthing center last week. Now they're back.

"It's exactly how I wanted it to be," Kotak said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, her first since giving birth. "Most of the people hung around for hours holding the baby, talking about the experience together and getting food and other supplies that we needed" until she went home.

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Journalist Group Fears for Syrian Media Writers

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says it fears for several journalists and bloggers in Syria who have vanished, with no response from authorities as to their fate.

"We are concerned for the safety of Lina Ibrahim, Wael Abaza and Hussein Ghrer and other journalists who we believe to be in the custody of Syrian authorities," said Mohammed Abdul Dayem, the committee's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

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