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More than 30 years after a crime that shocked Denmark, the culprit may finally be known in the beheading of the Little Mermaid statue.

The statue gazing out over Copenhagen's harbor is one of the Danish capital's most beloved landmarks, drawing a half-million tourists a year.

But some people find the statue cloying. The late painter Henrik Bruun was one -- and the Politiken newspaper reported Tuesday that he told friends he was the one who lopped off the statue's head in 1964. The head was later recreated.

"It wasn't a prank but a protest against established and bad art," said his friend, historian Annemette Soerensen.

"Vandalism cases are obsolete after five years so I cannot imagine that we'll reopen the case," Criminal Inspector Niels Abildgaard of the Copenhagen police said Tuesday.

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