Oslo police could announce on Friday that they’d recovered one of the more unusual items stolen in the Norwegian capital in recent times: A ski jacket made of reindeer skins with historic embroidery from the war years that once was worn by King Haakon VII. The jacket was found, of all places, at a local dry cleaners.
The jacket had been on display at the Norwegian Ski Museum at Holmenkollen for years, but was stolen from its glass case just a week before Holmenkollen was to become the center of the current FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (Ski-VM 2011). The theft brought back memories of a break-in at the National Gallery back in 1994, when thieves stole a version of artist Edvard Munch’s famous painting Skriket (The Scream) just before the Olympics began at Lillehammer.
The loss of the jacket was a huge blow to museum director Karin Berg, who recently had written a book about it and had planned to feature it in some Ski-VM events. On Friday she said she was literally trembling with joy that the jacket had been found.
“We found the jacket after an intense and detailed investigation,” Arne Solberg, chief of the Majorstuen Police Station, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The investigation included following transactions on the bank card of a 44-year-old man who’s been charged with the theft but who wouldn’t cooperate with police.
“He hasn’t given us any form of clarification, but we found the jacket after checking transactions on his bank account,” Solberg said. Among the transactions was a payment to a dry cleaning firm in Oslo. The dry cleaners was contacted and the jacket found.
“The case was special because the jacket is in many ways irreplaceable, historically speaking,” Solberg told NRK, adding that he hopes the Ski Museum will now secure it well. The jacket features patriotic embroidery on its lining that was secretly and illegally created by a female prisoner at the Grini prison camp during World War II, who had been a friend of King Haakon’s late wife, Queen Maud.
The 44-year-old suspect in the theft remains in custody. His defense attorney has demanded he either be released or turned over to psychiatric care.