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Greek Minister Offers to Quit After Second Museum Robbery

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Greek Culture Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos offered to resign after the museum of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, was robbed, the second major art heist this year.

Yeroulanos went to the museum in southern Greece this morning to assess the situation after submitting his resignation to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, a ministry spokesman said in a phone interview given on condition of anonymity. There was no response from the prime minister’s office on whether the resignation was accepted.

The robbery occurred at 7:34 a.m., according to a statement posted on the website of the Athens-based Hellenic Police. Two hooded, armed men disarmed the museum guard and stole bronze and ceramic artefacts as well as a gold ring, according to the statement. Olympia’s Mayor Efthimios Kotzias told state-run NET TV about 65 items were taken.

The robbery is the second major theft in two months. On Jan. 9, police reported three works of art, including a painting by Pablo Picasso and donated by the artist to the Greek people, were stolen from the National Gallery of Art in central Athens. The thieves are still at large.

The Olympic museum is considered one of the most important in Greece, housing priceless artefacts from the sanctuary of Olympia, which hosts the torch-lighting ceremony for the modern Olympic Games. The site was recently restored after being damaged by forest fires in 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at mpetrakis@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net

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