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A stolen Chinese linear scroll valued in the millions was found in Hong Kong, after it was cut in half.

Thieves stole a scroll of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong from the home of an art collector in a robbery last month.

Then they sold it for a fraction of its value. Hong Kong Police said it was apparently cut because the 2.8 m (9 ft) scroll was too long to be viewed.

The original owner says the value of the artwork has “definitely been affected”.

Colossal theft

The scroll, which contains passages of poetry written by the founder of the People’s Republic of China, is estimated to be worth about $ 300 million (230 million pounds) by its owner.

It was robbed in a massive robbery on September 10, when three men broke into the home of Fu Qunxiao, a well-known collector of stamps and revolutionary arts.

They also stole antique stamps, copper coins and other pieces of calligraphy by Mao. The payload totaled 5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 645 million, 500 million pounds sterling) according to Fu, who was said to have been in mainland China when the robbery took place.

A thief sold one of the pieces to another art collector for 500 HK dollars ($ 64, £ 50) to a buyer who believed, according to the South China Morning Post, that the artwork was a fake.

Then Jupiter saw a public appeal by the police and turned himself in with two pieces of the fascia on Sept.22.

It is not clear who exactly cut the artwork. “Someone thought the line was too long … and difficult to display. That’s why it was cut in half,” said Tony Hu, the chief supervisor of the Hong Kong Police.

“It was heartbreaking to see that it was torn in two,” Fu told the newspaper. “This will definitely affect its value, but the effect is not yet clear.”

Police later arrested the 49-year-old buyer on suspicion of dealing with stolen property, although he is now released on bail.

One of the suspected robbers has also been arrested, but the other two robbers who broke into Mr. Fu’s house are still at large.

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