Cultural Heritage News

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  • 25 Feb 2015 7:57 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Manhattan Deputy U.S. Attorney And FBI Assistant Director Announce Return To Italy Of A Painting Attributed To Giambattista Tiepolo And Ancient Etruscan Bronze Sculpture Of Herakles


    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Richard Zabel, the Deputy United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director in Charge New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the return to the Italian Government of two pieces of Italian cultural heritage – “The Holy Trinity Appearing to Saint Clement,” attributed to the 18th Century painter Giambattista Tiepolo (the “Tiepolo”), and an ancient Etruscan bronze statuette of Herakles dating from the 6th or 5th Century B.C.E. (the “Statuette”). Each artwork was returned to Warrant Officer Angelo Ragusa of the Rome Office of the Archaeological Section of the Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, today at a repatriation ceremony at the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.

    Manhattan Deputy U.S. Attorney Richard Zabel stated: “These two works of art were stolen from their owners many decades ago and through shadowy channels arrived in the United States. Both the Tiepolo painting and the Etruscan sculpture represent Italy’s rich cultural history and today will be returned to their homeland. We will continue to work with the FBI to return stolen items to their rightful owners.”
  • 25 Feb 2015 7:33 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    German court to rule on stolen Cypriot treasures in mid March 


    On March 16 the German Court of Appeals will issue its final decision on the fate of the remaining 85 treasures stolen by a Turkish art smuggler from the north as effort to reach an amicable settlement by February 13 has failed, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Tuesday.

    The treasures, including fragments of church wall paintings, icons, a manuscript of an Armenian gospel and 40 prehistoric antiquities, were found in 1997 in the possession of Turkish dealer in illicit antiquities Aydin Dikmen in apartments he maintained in Munich. A total of 173 looted treasures found in Dikmen`s possession in Munich have already been repatriated to Cyprus.
  • 23 Feb 2015 1:28 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)


    Meetings: Cultural Property Advisory Committee

    This Notice document was issued by the U.S. Department of State (DOS)

    For related information, Open Docket Folder  Docket folder icon

    [Public Notice 9038; Docket No. DOS-2015-10]

    Notice of Meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee

    There will be a meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee April 8-10, 2015 at the U.S. Department of State, Annex 5, 2200 C Street NW., Washington, DC. Portions of this meeting will be closed to the public, as discussed below.

    During the closed portion of the meeting, the Committee will review the proposal to extend the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Italy Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of Archaeological Material Representing the Pre-Classical, Classical, and Imperial Roman Periods of Italy (“Italy MOU”) [Docket No. DOS-2015-10]. An open session to receive oral public comment on the proposal to extend the Italy MOU will be held on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT.!documentDetail;D=DOS-2015-0010-0001
  • 23 Feb 2015 1:15 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Syria says must be part of fight against antiquities theft 

    By Laila Bassam and Tom Perry

    (Reuters) - The world will have to cooperate with Syria to halt the trade in looted antiquities that helps fund jihadist groups, Syria's culture minister said, putting the onus on Turkey to stop the smuggling across their shared frontier.

    Culture minister Issam Khalil said a U.N. Security Council resolution that aims to stop groups including Islamic State from benefiting from the illicit antiquities trade would not be effective without the help of Damascus, a pariah to many Arab and Western states since Syria's war erupted in 2011.

    "We have the conclusive documents and evidence to prove our ownership of these antiquities and we also have the will and readiness to cooperate with any serious effort to prevent smuggling of Syrian antiquities abroad," Khalil said in a recent interview at his office in Damascus.

  • 17 Feb 2015 12:09 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    The men who smuggle the loot that funds IS 


    The trade in antiquities is one of Islamic State's main sources of funding, along with oil and kidnapping. For this reason the UN Security Council last week banned all trade in artefacts from Syria, accusing IS militants of looting cultural heritage to strengthen its ability "to organise and carry out terrorist attacks".

    The BBC has been investigating the trade, and the routes from Syria through Turkey and Lebanon to Europe.

    The Smuggler

    It has taken many calls and a lot of coaxing to get a man we are calling "Mohammed" to meet us. He is originally from Damascus but now plies his trade in the Bekaa valley on the border between Syria and Lebanon. He's 21 but looks much younger in his T-shirt, skinny jeans and black suede shoes. As we sit in an apartment in central Beirut I have to lean forward to hear the softly spoken young man describe how he began smuggling looted antiquities from Syria. "There's three friends in Aleppo we deal with, these people move from Aleppo all the way to the border here and pay a taxi driver to sneak it in." He specialised in smaller items which would be easier to move on - but he says even that has become too risky. "We tried our best to get the items which had most value, earrings, rings, small statues, stone heads," he says.
  • 17 Feb 2015 12:04 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UN Bans Export of Antiquities To Target Islamic State Revenue 


    UNESCO has published the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 that condemns the destruction of cultural heritage and adopts legal measures to counter illicit trafficking of antiquities from Iraq and Syria. The resolution decidedly targets Islamic State revenues, and threatens to place economic and diplomatic sanctions against countries and individuals that enable terrorist groups to profit from trade in antiquities, oil, and hostages.

    The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, welcomed the new resolution, calling its adoption “a milestone for enhanced protection of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria." The measures stipulated in the document extend to Syria “the prohibition of trade of cultural objects already in place for Iraq since 2003," she added.
  • 11 Feb 2015 3:43 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Bid to Block Testimony in Peru Artifact Case Fails

         MIAMI (CN) - A Peruvian accused of smuggling ancient artifacts into the United States lost his bid to block government witnesses from testifying in a legal battle over the confiscated artifacts.
         When Jean Combe Fritz, a citizen of Peru, flew into Miami International Airport in August 2010, the U.S. Custom and Border Protection found 32 objects that appeared to be ancient artifacts in his luggage.
  • 10 Feb 2015 4:15 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Can Syria’s Cultural Heritage Be Fulcrum For Ending Civil War? – OpEd 


    By Franklin Lamb  


    For visitors to Syria these days, certainly this one, it’s almost become a cliche to shake ones head and mumble, “this is not your normal civil war.” Meaning that in spite of the dangerous environment for families and enormous sacrifices being paid daily, the Syrian people go about their lives with amazing resilience.

    Yesterday, 2/5/15, was the latest example. Rebel mortars started raining on downtown at 7 a.m. after a rebel commander Zahran Alloush of the “Islam Army” tweeted that his forces would keep firing mortars and rockets “until the capital is cleansed.” An estimated nine people were killed, and dozens wounded in downtown Damascus from roughly 60 rebel mortars. By the end of the day more than seventy, most of them rebel forces, died as the Syrian army and rebel fighters trading salvos of rockets and mortar bombs.
  • 09 Feb 2015 8:58 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    U.N. Prepares Resolution to Confront Islamic State on Oil and Antiquities

    UNITED NATIONS — In a show of unity by the world powers against the Islamic State, the United Nations Security Council is preparing to adopt a legally binding resolution intended to choke the terrorist group’s ability to trade in oil, antiquities and hostages.

    The draft resolution, which was scheduled to be discussed by Council members in a closed meeting Friday afternoon, requires all 193 member states of the United Nations to prevent the sale of antiquities from Syria, similar to a measure the Council passed 10 years ago regarding antiquities from Iraq.
  • 09 Feb 2015 8:25 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Looted antiquities feed terror fears

    Floating sarcophagi found in a canal near Minya this week are authentic, raising concerns over increasing illicit excavations, reports Nevine El-Aref

    Earlier this week inhabitants of the Deir Abu Nawas village in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya were astonished to see what seemed to be coffins floating in the Oda Pasha Canal that runs alongside the village.

    At first they thought they could be the bodies of people, but coming closer they realised they were wooden sarcophagi with painted human faces and bodies.

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