NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A golden bookmark given to Adolf Hitler by his mistress Eva Braun to cheer him up after losing a key battle was recovered this week, six years after it was stolen from a Spanish auction house, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that the bookmark, which bears a loving message from Braun to Hitler, was recovered in a sting operation late Tuesday and one man was arrested.
Christian Popescu, 37, of Kenmore in the state of Washington has since appeared in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, charged with sale or receipt of stolen goods.
The department said the 18 carat gold bookmark was allegedly given to Hitler by Braun after his armies were defeated in the battle of Stalingrad in 1943.
The bookmark is inscribed in part: “My Adolf, don’t worry... (the defeat)... was only an inconvenience that will not break your certainty of victory. My love for you will be eternal.”
Authorities believe the bookmark previously belonged to the family of one of Hitler’s armed forces chiefs who was executed following the Nuremberg trials.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the bookmark was stolen in October 2002 from an auction house in Madrid, Spain, just days before it was due to be sold.
Other items stolen at that time have since been recovered.
According to a complaint filed in federal court in August this year, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer working in Seattle got word that someone was trying to sell a golden bookmark that belonged to Hitler and set up a meeting.
The sale or receipt of stolen goods is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy