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Paris cemetery targeted by art thieves

Dec. 15, 2006 at 6:25 PM

PARIS, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Thieves have targeted Paris' famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the last resting place of Moliere, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.

At least six bronze busts and other art have been stolen, The Independent reported. They include an effigy of Georges Bizet, the composer of the opera "Carmen."

"We're dealing with a group theft carried out over a short period of time," an official told the newspaper. "And there is without doubt a collector behind it. The pieces are almost never catalogued, and so it would be very easy to sell them on the black market."

The cemetery, the largest in Paris, was established in 1804. The remains of some earlier French notables -- including playwright Moliere -- were moved there to boost its popularity, because many people thought it was too far from the center of the city.

Vandalism is a longstanding problem. Morrison was buried there after dying of a drug overdose in Paris, and enthusiastic fans have drawn arrows on other tombstones showing the way to his grave.

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