Hermitage Is Reeling From Loss of Artworks

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No more than four people at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg regularly visited the repository from which 221 objects have apparently been stolen, the museum’s director said on Tuesday.

The director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, who described the missing items as Russian objects made from silver and enamel, did not accuse specific employees of the theft, which was announced abruptly on Monday in a statement on the museum’s Russian-language Web site.

But Mr. Piotrovsky said at a news conference that three people had access to the area and that many of the objects had been seen only by a curator “who is no longer alive.”

He did not name the employees. But the museum’s mysteriously worded Monday statement said that the curator responsible for the majority of the missing items had died on the job during a regularly scheduled inventory of items.

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