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Return of the ring: stolen Oscar Wilde friendship band recovered

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Return of the ring: stolen Oscar Wilde friendship band recovered

FILE PHOTO: View of Oscar Wilde's renovated tomb during the ceremony at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris on November 30, 2011. REUTERS / Charles Platiau / Stock Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Oxford University said on Monday that a gold ring given by Irish writer Oscar Wilde to a close friend would be returned almost two decades after it was stolen from Magdalen College, where he studied.

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand recovered the ring and it will be returned on December 4, said Mark Blandford-Baker, treasurer of Magdalen College.

The 18-carat Friendship Band was jointly awarded by Wilde and his colleague Reginald Harding to William Ward in 1876, when they attended college.

It was stolen in 2002 by cleaner Eamonn Andrews, who sold it for 150 pounds ($ 194). Since then, its whereabouts have been a mystery, but it is believed that it has melted. It was worth about 35,000 pounds at the time.

"We are delighted to have him back. Years ago, the police thought it had probably been melting for someone who did not understand its meaning," said Blandford-Baker.

The band bears the initials of Wilde, author of such works as "The Image of Dorian Gray" and "The Importance of Being Serious," and a Greek inscription that reads: "Gift of love for those who wish to love."

Brand helped recover several important works of art, including a painting by Pablo Picasso that was stolen from a private yacht owned by a Saudi owner in France in 1999.

Report by Anthony Deutsch; Edition by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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