Preliminary Charges vs 9 in Paris Auction Sweep

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By: Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP).- Preliminary charges have been filed against nine employees of Paris’ respected Drouot auction house after police found stolen art, including a painting by 19th-century realist master Gustave Courbet, prosecutors said Monday. An auctioneer and eight commission agents were given preliminary charges, including “organized theft,” the prosecutor’s office said. Three others detained last week in the police raids on Drouot, its warehouses and homes of employees were released with no charges filed against them. When the bust was announced last week, there was initial confusion about which Courbet work had been recovered. The painting — stolen several years ago from a collection whose owner had recently died — was not clearly identified, and the heir had confused it with another work, an official close to the inquiry said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. Police initially identifie