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Danish Royal Library may bid for book stolen from its collection



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Copenhagen (dpa) - The Danish Royal Library was reported Monday to be one of the bidders for a 500-year old copy of Thomas More's book "Utopia", one of scores of rare books stolen from the library by a former employee.

The book, dating from 1516 is valued at 1 million kroner (157,000 dollars), and is slated to be auctioned at Copenhagen auction house Bruun Rasmussen late Tuesday.

However, the culture ministry will not confirm the library is a bidder - fearing that will push the price up even more.

Bruun Rasmussen fears that the book will end up abroad, Danish news agency Ritzau said.

"Utopia" was one of scores of rare books stolen from the library by a former librarian. After his death, his family sold them at various auction houses including Christie's in London.

Earlier this year, the librarian's widow, son, daughter-in-law and an Irish citizen were sentenced for receiving and selling 77 rare books from the library.

The Royal Library has been reluctant to take legal action against buyers of the stolen rarities, fearing the legal costs would skyrocket.

In June, the Royal Library and prosecutor general demanded that 70-year-old Eva Moller-Kristensen pay a fine of 17.9 million kroner (2.8 million dollars) for the stolen books, but the sum will likely be reduced to a third.

The librarian, who died in February 2003, was believed to have stolen some 3,000 books between 1967 and 1978, police said.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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