Cultural Heritage News

U.S. court suspends auction of ancient Iranian relief

October 28, 2017

A Green Light for Art Criminals?

By SCOTT REYBURN | September 1, 2017

The Art World Calls This Man When Masterpieces Go Missing

By  ALANNA MARTINEZ |  August 31 2017

Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors

by TOM MASHBERG |  August 1 2017

When Nigeria Celebrated Return of Stolen Artifacts

By NURUDEEN OYEWOLE |  July 16 2017

Why the Feds Were Smart Not to Throw the Book at Hobby Lobby for Buying Iraqi Loot

by LEILA AMINEDDOLEH |  July 12 2017

Hobby Lobby To Forfeit Smuggled Iraqi Antiquities

by RICHARD GONZALES |  July 5 2017

Satellite Images Reveal Mosul's Cultural Destruction

by KRISTIN ROMEY |  June 23 2017

The art born of destruction

by I.S. |  June 7 2017

  • 14 Apr 2016 2:18 PM | Anonymous

    Senate Votes to Ban Imports of Syrian Art and Antiquities


    WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Wednesday to ban the import of virtually all ancient art and artifacts from Syria to discourage the looting and trafficking of illicit objects by the Islamic State and other armed groups.

    The Senate voted by unanimous consent, reflecting broad bipartisan support, but it did so after months of delay and debate over the legislation, which the House of Representatives passed last year. The bill’s provisions would fulfill commitments the United States supported at the United Nations Security Council more than a year ago to try to choke off the trade of so-called blood antiquities that the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and other groups use to help finance their military operations in Syria and Iraq

  • 14 Apr 2016 2:16 PM | Anonymous

    CultureUnderThreat Task Force Unveils Recommendations to Combat Antiquities Trafficking, Cultural Cleansing

    Apr 13, 2016

    WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2016—Today the Antiquities Coalition, Asia Society, and Middle East Institute released #CultureUnderThreat: Recommendations for the U.S. Government, a series of steps for confronting growing threats to our cultural heritage and global security. Cultural racketeering – the global trade in looted antiquities – is a multibillion-dollar industry that funds organized crime and terrorists like Daesh (also known as ISIS). Cultural cleansing – the systematic destruction of a targeted group and its heritage – has been used by Daesh, al Nusra, and other terrorist organizations to terrorize populations under their control.

  • 06 Apr 2016 4:49 PM | Anonymous

    Islamic State nets up to $200 million a year from antiquities: Russia

    UNITED NATIONS | By Louis Charbonneau


    UNITED NATIONS Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq are netting between $150 million and $200 million per year from illicit trade in plundered antiquities, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations said in a letter released on Wednesday

    Around 100,000 cultural objects of global importance, including 4,500 archaeological sites, nine of which are included in the World Heritage List of ... UNESCO, are under the control of the Islamic State ... in Syria and Iraq," Ambassador Vitaly Churkin wrote in a letter to the U.N. Security Council. 

  • 06 Apr 2016 11:55 AM | Anonymous

    U.S. Attorney Announces Return To Mongolia Of Looted Dinosaur Fossils

    Alioramus Skull, Nest of Eggs and Various Skeletons Among Fossils Being Repatriated

    This afternoon, Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will host a repatriation ceremony at which the United States will return to Mongolia the fossilized remains of six species of dinosaur.  The fossils were unlawfully removed from Mongolia and seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in New York and Utah. 

    The largest of these fossils, an Alioramus skull, was forfeited to the United States as a result of a civil forfeiture action handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The other fossils being returned at today’s ceremony were administratively forfeited by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).   HSI Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Peter T. Edge and Mongolia’s Ambassador to the United States Altangerel Bulgaa will sign the ceremonial certificates transferring ownership of the fossils from the United States to Mongolia.  Mongolian paleontologist Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin, and Director of the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs, will participate in the ceremony as a representative of the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences.

  • 23 Mar 2016 2:42 PM | Anonymous

    Acceptance by Guinea-Bissau of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2 November 2001)

    On 7 March 2016, Guinea-Bissau deposited with the Director-General its instrument of acceptance of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

    In accordance with the terms of its Article 27, the aforementioned Convention will enter into force with respect to Guinea-Bissau three months after the date of the deposit of this instrument, that is to say on 7 june 2016.


  • 14 Mar 2016 7:25 AM | Anonymous

    Notice of Meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee

        There will be a meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee
    (``the Committee'') May 24-26, 2016, at the United States Department of
    State, Harry S Truman Building, 2201 C Street NW., and State Annex 5,
    2200 C Street NW., Washington, DC. The Committee's responsibilities are
    carried out in accordance with provisions of the Convention on Cultural
    Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.) (``the Act''). A
    portion of this meeting will be closed to the public

    [[Page 13442]]

    pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(9)(B) and 19 U.S.C. 2605(h).
        During the closed portion of the meeting, the Committee will review
    the proposal to extend the Memorandum of Understanding between the
    Government of the United States of America and the Government of the
    Republic of Bolivia Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on
    Archaeological Material from the Pre-Columbian Cultures and Certain
    Ethnological Material from the Colonial and Republican Periods of
    Bolivia (``Bolivia MOU'') [Docket No. DOS-2016-0008]. Also, during the
    closed portion of the meeting, the Committee will review the proposal
    to extend the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the
    United States of America and the Government of the Hellenic Republic
    Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Categories of
    Archaeological and Byzantine Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material
    through the 15th Century A.D.

  • 14 Mar 2016 7:17 AM | Anonymous

    Escalating the War on Looting


    PARIS — Like the wars themselves, the looting of antiquities in Syria and other conflict zones in the Middle East is proving virtually impossible to stop, despite the best efforts of a host of international agencies, cultural organizations and dogged independent researchers.

    As the pillaging continues in a region rich in layers of ancient civilizations, the international community is focusing on the marketplace, doing what it can to scare off demand in hopes that supply will shrink. “There wouldn’t be any looting if there wasn’t money to be made,” said Kathryn Walker Tubb, a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.

    In the past few years, the effort to intercept the illicit trade has intensified.

  • 14 Mar 2016 7:06 AM | Anonymous

    To Fight ISIS, Art Dealers & Archaeologists Join Forces

    By Catherine Chapman — Mar 11 2016

    Stretching 20cm high, the exaggerated feminine curves of Halaf terracotta figurines are a symbol of fertility, dating back to Neolithic times in Syria. 

    Neil Brodie is an illicit trade expert who spent three months searching for these items online, now on a list of cultural objects at risk by the International Council of Museums, on He found 60, sold by seven dealers typically based outside London, for an average price of £102. Brodie thinks the majority are fake, but the rest could be from ISIS-held areas in Syria and Iraq. At an art auction, similar figurines could be worth up to an estimated $1,500.

    The value of cultural heritage has always been a contentious issue within the world of art. Things intensified in 2014, when, as a global society, we began to bear witness to the irreversible amount of cultural cleansing being performed by ISIS in places like Mosul, Raqqa, and now Palmyra. While an unknown amount of antiques and artifacts have either been lost or destroyed, in a once divided scene of archaeologists, museums, collectors and dealers, a coalition of culture is starting to fight back.
  • 14 Mar 2016 7:04 AM | Anonymous

    ICE recovers stolen Indian artifacts from major auction house ahead of Asia Week New York

    NEW YORK — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office seized two stolen Indian statues Friday, believed to be from the 8th and 10th centuries A.D. The artifacts were recovered from Christie's auction house in New York City and are the result of an international investigation led by HSI and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, with assistance from the government of India and Interpol. 

    The seizure comes just days before a planned March 15, 2016 auction of the items as part of the "Asia Week New York" festivities. Christie's had included the two artifacts in an auction entitled: "The Lahiri Collection: Indian and Himalayan Art, Ancient and Modern."

  • 11 Mar 2016 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    Returning the hatchet

    Governments are starting to return treasures to their neighbours

    Mar 12th 2016 | TRUJILLO, PERU

    THE basement of a petrol station is not an obvious place to display some 6,000 pre-Columbian ceramics. The shelves of the Cassinelli Museum are crammed with feline gods, copulating animals and vessels shaped like human faces. Many were made by the Moche and Chimú cultures, which peopled Peru’s northern coast for 1,400 years before the arrival of the Incas in the 15th century.

    The artefacts are safer here, argued the museum’s late founder, José Luis Cassinelli, than in tombs that dot the desert or beneath the adobe city of Chan Chan. There, they were prey to huaqueros, poor relic-hunters who sold them on to smugglers. Many ended up in American and European private collections. But some were carted off to countries closer to home.

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