Cultural Heritage News

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  • 03 Sep 2015 1:50 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UK to return €2 million statue seized from smugglers

    By Libya Herald reporters.

    Tripoli, 2 September 2015:

    A British court has ordered a classical Greek statue stolen from the ruins of Cyrene to be seized from smugglers and returned to Libya.

    The marble statue of a woman is just over a metre high.  In 2013, it was intercepted by UK Customs officials who doubted documentation that claimed it was from Turkey and worth some €72,000.  Experts from the British Museum examined the sculpture and decided it was from the third or fourth centuries BC and that it had come from Cyrene.  Its real value on the thriving black market in stolen antiquities was nearer €2 million.

    A Jordanian national,  Riad Al-Qassas claimed that the statue belonged to him and produced evidence from a Dubai businessman Hassan Fazeli that his family had had it in their collection since 1977.

    The London magistrate’s court yesterday decided that both these claims were false. District Judge John Zani ruled that the sculpture was owned by “the state of Libya” and should be seized. The UK Customs said it would now set about returning the statue to its “rightful owners
  • 02 Sep 2015 3:56 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    After Palmyra, what can the world do to protect cultural treasures? September 2, 2015 10.50am EDT

    Agnieszka Jachec-Neale

    There has been much public condemnation of the destruction of the Temple of Bel at Palmyra by Islamic State (IS), as well as the wider devastation being inflicted on the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq by both IS and its opponents in Syria’s civil war.

    Both Syria and Iraq are party to all relevant treaties protecting cultural heritage, but this has not stopped the rampant violations. This implies that the problem doesn’t lie with inadequate laws, but rather with compliance and enforcement.

  • 01 Sep 2015 1:15 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Why IS militants destroy ancient sites

    By Dr David Roberts King's College, London



    Satellite image of Palmyra showing destruction of the Temple of BelImage caption Satellite image of Palmyra showing destruction of the Temple of Bel in August 2015


    The destruction of the grandest, most important temple in the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra has flung so-called Islamic State's (IS) barbarous actions back into international consciousness.

    Many will wonder why anyone would so actively seek to raze historical and cultural marvels that have lasted millennia.

    But for the IS bulldozers, the rationale is straightforward and fulfils several readily identifiable goals.

  • 18 Aug 2015 7:31 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Strapped for Cash, Some Greeks Turn to Ancient Source of Wealth

    Greece’s financial crisis is causing a spike in illegal excavations and swelling the ranks of looters with first-time offenders.

    By Nick Romeo, National Geographic

    PUBLISHED August 17, 2015

    ATHENS—Recently police in Greece have noted a spike in a surprising kind of crime: People with no prior criminal record are looting Greek antiquities.

    One sign of the problem: a sharp rise in applications for metal detector permits. Because metal detectors are used to find ancient coins and artifacts, the Greek government tracks purchases of the devices and typically grants use permits only to people without a criminal record. “The numbers have increased, and this is related to the economic crisis,” Lieutenant Monovasios said.


  • 17 Aug 2015 8:25 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    To catch an idol thief

    Amulya GopalakrishnanAmulya Gopalakrishnan,TNN | Aug 16, 2015, 12.00 AM IST

    What is an antiquity? It could be an idol in a shrine, a piece of jewellery passed on from your grandmother, or a casually bought souvenir that is much older than you realize. These are all covered under the Antiquities Act of 1972, but the ethics of owning and circulating them are not the same.

    Despite a stringent law, antiquities continually stream out of India. Their owners secretly sell them abroad, flouting export restrictions. The ongoing Chennai trial of Manhattan-based art dealer Subhash Kapoor, reveals how antiquities are spirited across the border by a network of smugglers and dealers, sold to museums, galleries and collectors.


  • 12 Aug 2015 8:56 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ratification by Austria of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 14 November 1970)

    On 15 July 2015, Austria deposited with the Director-General its instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

    In accordance with the terms of Article 21, the Convention will enter into force with respect to Austria three months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification, that is to say on 15 October 2015. 

  • 10 Aug 2015 11:33 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Museum Says Donor Gave It Looted Art


    HONOLULU (CN) - The Honolulu Art Museum sued a donor for $880,000, claiming he cannot prove the art for which it has been paying him $80,000 a year did not come from a smuggling ring.

         The Honolulu Academy of Arts dba the Honolulu Art Museum sued Joel Alexander Greene in state court, claiming he has not provided documents he promised to establish the provenance of "five of the objects from his collection of Southeast Asian art," valued at $1.3 million.

  • 05 Aug 2015 6:13 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Men Get Jail Term For Digging Up Civil War Artifacts


    Updated: 10:06 am

    Chattanooga (WDEF) - Federal Judge Curtis Collier sentenced two East Tennessee men to jail time for digging up Civil War artifacts. 

    39-year old Kenneth Fagin, Jr. from South Pittsburg and 61-year old Terry Tate from Manchester will serve 30 months in federal prison.

  • 04 Aug 2015 2:42 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    India struggles to halt multimillion dollar trade in stolen artworks

    New York-based art dealer due in court over sale of hundreds of items police claim were stolen from country’s temples Jason Burke in Chennai

    Monday 3 August 2015 11.17 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 4 August 2015 12.01 EDT

    The police officers had waited since mid-morning. Hidden among the bustle of an Indian market, they watched, handguns at the ready. Around them, women haggled for vegetables and hurried office workers bought cheap fried chicken. Shortly after noon, the officers saw their target: a motorised rickshaw, carrying a cargo rarely found in this ordinary neighbourhood in the southern city of Chennai.

    Within minutes, a 38-year-old suspect was in custody and two 11th-century bronze idols worth several million dollars were safely stowed in an official lockup. The only police squad in India dedicated to fighting the longstanding problem of the theft of valuable idols from the country’s temples to sell on international markets had chalked up another successful operation.

  • 31 Jul 2015 2:39 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Looters find path to export antiquities via Lebanon

    Author: Al-Nahar (Lebanon)Posted July 30, 2015

    The Middle East is the oldest region in the world. It goes without saying that it is greatly rich in historical symbols of the many civilizations that have lived there throughout time, whose people left remnants marking their existence. This made the region a permanent stock for artifacts of various sizes and types, turning it into a focus point for traders and smugglers from all over the world.

    In order to protect and conserve these monuments that belong to humanity as a whole, smuggling was made an illegal act. Most countries signed international agreements preventing the “illicit trafficking of antiquities” and made cooperation protocols to retrieve the stolen artifacts and bring them back to the country of origin to which they naturally belong

    Read more: 

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