UK police arrest man over Churchill memorabilia

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British police arrested a man Thursday as part of an investigation into the sale of memorabilia that fraudulently claimed to have been signed by wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.

"Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Art and Antiques Unit have today arrested a 65-year-old man in Lymington, Hampshire (on the southern English coast) on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation," a statement said.

They acted after receiving complaints that a number of books and memorabilia purportedly signed by Churchill have been put up for auction on the eBay website or sold directly to buyers in the past 18 months.

A signature can increase their value by up to 1,000 percent, police said.

"Officers have today seized a number of calligraphy pens with ink and approximately 30 books by authors such as Tolkein, TS Eliott and Robert Louis Stephenson," the statement added.

Churchill memorabilia is big business -- a set of his solid gold false teeth sold for 16,000 pounds (19,100 euros, $25,500) last month, while a collection of diaries, letters and a pristine cigar sold for half a million pounds last June.

© 2011 AFP

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