Cultural Heritage News

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  • 11 Sep 2014 8:16 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Scythian gold returned to Kiev

    But works from Crimean museum remain in Amsterdam pending judge’s ruling

    Nineteen pieces of Scythian gold, including a fourth-century BC ceremonial helmet, have been returned by the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam to the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine. They went on public display in Kiev on Tuesday.

    The fate of another 565 items originally lent by four museums in Crimea for the same exhibition, “The Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, remains in question since Russia annexed the region in March, two months before the show was originally scheduled to end.


  • 09 Sep 2014 1:13 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Miami Is a Hub for Stolen Art and Artifacts


    Two summers ago, Miami was the stage for one of the strangest FBI sting operations on record. On July 17, 2012, undercover agents set up a clandestine deal in a pricey South Beach hotel room. With hidden cameras recording his every move, an unwitting suspect carefully removed the much-coveted object from inside a cardboard tube. Then the cops kicked down the door.

    But the illicit good wasn't an assault rifle or a brick of Colombian yeyo. It was a stolen painting.

    The recovery in Miami of Henri Matisse's Odalisque in Red Pants undefined described in our September 4 feature, "Vanishing Point" undefined was no fluke, however. Miami may still be maturing as an international cultural capital, but it's long been a black-market boomtown. Dozens of near-priceless pieces of art or antiquities have mysteriously surfaced in Miami, only to be seized by authorities.

  • 08 Sep 2014 4:42 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Stolen 18th Century Art Returned to Peru
  • 06 Sep 2014 5:18 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Feds to return 70-million-year-old dinosaur fossil to Mongolian government

    Brooklyn federal prosecutors filed court papers to seize the fossilized skull and vertebrae after a dealer allegedly attempted to smuggle it into America.

    Friday, September 5, 2014, 12:49 PM

    The feds are sending home a 70-million-year-old Mongolian dinosaur.

    Its fossilized skull and vertebrae, that is.

    Brooklyn prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to seize the stolen remains, which the fossil dealer falsely described in shipping documents as a cheap replica of dinosaur bones from France.

    Read more:

  • 06 Sep 2014 1:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Australia returns two stolen ancient, priceless idols to India

    New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is on a state visit to India is returning two looted idols seized from Australian museums during a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday.

    Abbott is personally delivering the National Gallery of Australia's Rs 30 crore ($5 million) Dancing Shiva or Nataraja Ardand and the Art Gallery of New South Wales's Rs 2 crore ($300,000) Ardhanarishvara to Modi as a "gesture of good will" at a state reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening.

    Both priceless objects were stolen from temples in India and later sold to the museums by Manhattan dealer Subhash Kapoor, who, his gallery manager has admitted, created falsified ownership documents to hide their illicit origins.

  • 06 Sep 2014 1:39 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce the Repatriation of Nine Stolen Miguel Cabrera Paintings to the Republic of Peru

    U.S. Attorney’s Office September 05, 2014
    • Southern District of New York(212) 637-2600
    • FBI New York Press Office(212) 384-2100

    Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the repatriation of nine stolen 18th century paintings to the Republic of Peru.

    Miguel Cabrera was an 18th century Mexican painter. He is considered one of the most important painters of his time in New Spain, an area that included present-day Mexico and Central America. Cabrera painted for the Archbishop and for the Jesuit order, and therefore many of Cabrera’s works were religious in nature. Of the nine paintings that are being returned to Peru, “Resurrection of Lazarus” is perhaps the most recognized and the finest example of Cabrera’s talent.

    Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “We are pleased to return these nine Miguel Cabrera paintings. They are part of Peru’s cultural heritage, but they were stolen from a church in Lima six years ago and smuggled out of Peru to be trafficked on the international art market. Our Office is committed to ensuring that stolen artwork, especially when it is an important part of a nation’s cultural heritage, does not find a safe haven for resale in the Southern District of New York or elsewhere in the U.S.”


  • 04 Sep 2014 8:17 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Archaeologists Train "Monuments Men" to Save Syria's Past

    Amid the devastation and danger of civil war, Syrian archaeologists and activists are risking their lives in the battle against looting.

    Photo of Free Syrian Army fighters walking with their weapons in the Umayyad mosque of Old Aleppo.

    Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble at Aleppo's Umayyad Mosque in December 2013.

    Photograph by Molhem Barakat, Reuters/Corbis

    Andrew Curry

    for National Geographic

    Published September 3, 2014

    The ancient city of Dura-Europos sits on a bluff above the Tigris River a few miles from Syria's border with Iraq, its mud-brick walls facing a bleak expanse of desert. Just a year ago the city's precise grid of streetsundefinedlaid down by Greek and Roman residents 2,000 years agoundefinedwas largely intact. Temples, houses, and a substantial Roman outpost were preserved for centuries by the desert sands.


    "It stood out for its remarkable preservation," says Simon James, an archaeologist at the U.K.'s University of Leicester who spent years studying the site's Roman garrison. "Until now." (See before and after pictures of archaeological site looting.)

    Satellite images of the site released by the U.S. State Department in June show a shocking picture of devastation. In the past year, as fighting continued to rage between the government of President Bashar al Assad's troops and rebelsundefinedincluding the Islamic State in Iraq and Syriaundefinedthe site has been ravaged by industrial-scale looting.

  • 02 Sep 2014 4:45 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Pre-hispanic archaeological treasure seized in Spain returns to Colombia

    Gonzalo Dominguez Loeda Sept. 2, 2014

    Bogota, Sep 2 (EFE).- Colombian officials have presented to the public 50 out of 691 archaeological pieces which were seized by Spanish police from drug traffickers 11 years ago in an anti-narcotics operation.

    The artifacts were returned to the South American country after almost a decade of study and cataloguing in the Museum of the Americas in Madrid.

    In a ceremony on Monday attended by officials of both countries, Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said that "words are not enough" to describe the items which belong to several pre-Colombian cultures and produced over a period of ten centuries.
  • 02 Sep 2014 2:02 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ISIS’ Antiquities Sideline

    The territorial gains made by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have provoked fears undefined as well as tentative news reports undefined that archaeological sites in those countries are being attacked and looted, much as sites in Iraq were at the outset of the second Iraq war.

    We have recently returned from southern Turkey, where we were training Syrian activists and museum staff preservationists to document and protect their country’s cultural heritage. That heritage includes remains from the ancient Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods, along with some of the earliest examples of writing and some of the best examples of Hellenistic, Roman and Christian mosaics.

  • 02 Sep 2014 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    The NY Times published an Oped about the relationship between ISIS and antiquities looting. Read the great piece here:

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