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Nymph Napped in Germany

A well-proportioned bronze nymph perched on a rock off the German Baltic Sea coast has made national headlines because of a copyright dispute. In the latest twist to the mysterious controversy, the statue's disappeared.

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Did she just get sick and tired off all the attention from tourists?

It all smells a bit like a fairly clever marketing campaign. The Baltic Sea nymph suddenly appeared off the coast of the town of Boltenhagen a little over a year ago. The townspeople soon figured out that the statue could help to draw tourists, just like it's world-famous counterpart in the Copenhagen harbor.

But then Kathrin Nonnenmacher, a former beauty queen, secured the copyright for the statue and told Boltenhageners to take their nymph cups, key chains and tea towels off the shelves.

Nonnenmacher, who looks much like the statue but denies that she served as a model, produces all these products herself and can do without the competition.

Ex-Schönheitskönigin Kathrin Nonnenmacher

Kathrin Nonnenmacher during happier days

On her Web site, she clouds the nymph's story in all sorts of mysteries and has decided to continue with the fairy tale now that it's disappeared.

The nymph "is among us to expore our 'humanity,'" Nonnemacher writes on her Web site. "Whether she'll ever return to the rock and Neptune's kingdom remains a mystery."

While that's all nice and dandy, the 24-year-old businesswoman also warns the nymph-nappers that they'll be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. She's also told reporters that she'll put up a reproduction if the original doesn't return.

Boltenhagen officials seem to take a more light-hearted approach to the situation.

"It was a very cold winter -- maybe the nymph just wanted to warm up and will resurface shortly," tourism director Dieter Dunkelmann told a reporter for the Web site of German news magazine Der Spiegel. "It's unlikely that someone's going to put her up in their front garden."

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