Sunken 18th century 'art treasure' Russian ship to be raised

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Moscow, Feb 9 (UNI) A Russian ship with rare art treasures, which sank in 1771 off the coast of Finland, is to be soon raised.

The Dutch ship Vrouw Maria sank in the Baltic Sea in 1771 while carrying rare artworks bought by the Russian empress, Catherine the Great, in Amsterdam, Ria Novosti reported quoting Russia's cultural watchdog.

The ship's cargo contained around 300 artworks, including paintings by Rembrandt, as well as jewellery, silverware, etchings and porcelain.

In 1999, the ship was discovered by Finnish explorers and the cargo was proclaimed the property of Finland, in accordance with international maritime law.

The cargo, which lay at a depth of 41 metres, was undamaged as it was wrapped in buckskin and kept in lead containers filled with wax, experts said.

The ship's treasures, which could be worth millions of dollars, have remained a sore issue in Russian-Finnish relations. The Finnish government failed to begin salvage work immediately due to insufficient financing.

Russian Cultural Ministry together with its Swedish partners, is to launch a joint operation to rescue the ship's cargo.

UNI XC SZ HS1542

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