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

  • 25 Jan 2016 8:33 AM | Anonymous

    Greece a transit country for trade in illicit antiquities from Syria, Iraq

    Greece is being used as a passage to export illegal antiquities from war-torn Syria and Iraq into the West, experts warn amid reports of a clandestine police operation to net a Syrian suspect.

    “Greece is a transit country for migrants and refugees and thus it is likely that antiquities from Syria and Iraq are being smuggled through the country,” according to Lynda Albertson, CEO of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art.

  • 21 Jan 2016 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    Shutting Down ISIS’ Antiquities Trade 

    by David Grantham

    ISIS poses a national security threat to the United States primarily because of the resources it commands. The organization boasts an impressive network of revenue streams, ranging from oil proceeds and racketeering profits to money seized from local banks. But ISIS also profits from its lucrative trade in pilfered Roman, Greek, and other antiquities found in Syria and northern Iraq. This lucrative operation presents a national security dilemma because it helps fund ISIS’s international war machine.

    There exists a clear connection between those terrorist organizations targeting U.S. citizens and the sale of antiquities. And American authorities have begun to show a greater appreciation for that relationship. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in June 2015 to address the issue, The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act. The move came on the heels of the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval in February 2015 of Resolution 2199, which requires all member states to actively prevent business transactions that may benefit ISIS, such as illegal antiquities trade. Unfortunately, the House bill consists of broad language and toothless reforms, neither of which specifically map out strategies to stop the ISIS operation.

  • 21 Jan 2016 10:09 AM | Anonymous

    Acceptance by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic 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 22 December 2015, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic deposited with the Director-General its instrument of acceptance 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 the Lao People’s Democratic Republic three months after the deposit of the instrument of acceptance, that is to say on 22 March 2016.


  • 21 Jan 2016 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    Isil extremists destroy Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery

    The destruction, which went unreported for 16 months, raises fears that other sites have been attacked

    by Martin Bailey  |  20 January 2016

    Two satellite images provided by DigitalGlobe, taken on 31 March 2011 (top), and 28 September 2014 show the site of the 1,400-year-old Christian monastery Mar Elia, on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. Image: DigitalGlobe via AP

    Iraq’s earliest Christian monastery has been destroyed by Isil extremists. Satellite imagery recorded by DigitalGlobe for the US-based Associated Press apparently shows the complete destruction of Mar Elia (St Elijah) monastery. This seems to have occurred in September 2014, three months after the site on the southern outskirts of Mosul was seized by Isil forces.

    The monastery is believed to have been founded by Mar Elia in 595. It was severely damaged by Persian invaders in 1743 when the monks living there were massacred. The buildings were partially restored in the early 20th century. Some damage occurred during the 2003 Coalition invasion and the subsequent US occupation.

  • 21 Jan 2016 9:56 AM | Anonymous

    Lords put pressure on UK government to sign Hague Convention this year

    Move could allow cultural heritage experts to set up Blue Shield headquarters in London

    by Anny Shaw  |  21 January 2016

    Members of the House of Lords and leading cultural heritage experts are again calling on the government to ratify the Hague Convention seven months after it agreed to sign the international agreement. If parliament swiftly ratifies the treaty’s two protocols before any of the other five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK will also be in a position to set up a headquarters in London for the Blue Shield, the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.

    During a debate in the House of Lords on 14 January, Baroness Andrews said there was a “growing sense of urgency” to sign the convention following “grotesque failures in Iraq” and “the increasing barbarity in Syria”. She added: “The events of the past six months have, I believe, changed the game.”

  • 20 Jan 2016 1:02 PM | Anonymous

    France's Guimet Museum returns looted statue head to national museum in Phnom Penh 


    PHNOM PENH (AFP).- A French museum has returned the head of a statue of a Hindu god that was taken from a Cambodian temple 130 years ago, the Culture Ministry said Tuesday.

    The head of the Harihara statue, a combined representation of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva, was returned by France's Guimet Museum on Saturday at the kingdom's request, according to Thai Noraksathya, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture.  
  • 15 Jan 2016 7:29 PM | Anonymous

    United States and Italy Extend Memorandum of Understanding To Protect the Cultural Heritage of Italy

    Media Note


    Office of the Spokesperson

    Washington, DC

    January 15, 2016

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    The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the 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, effective January 19, 2016, for a period of five years. Consistent with a recommendation made by the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee, the extension recognizes the continued threat to Italy’s archaeological heritage and builds on the United States’ ongoing commitment to cultural preservation and respect for the heritage of other countries.

    The Government of the Italian Republic requested this MOU under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The first MOU with Italy entered into force January 19, 2001. With this extension, Italy’s Pre-Classical, Classical, and Imperial Roman Period cultural heritage continues to be protected.

  • 15 Jan 2016 12:48 PM | Anonymous

    Switzerland returns stolen Etruscan treasures to Italy


    Rare Etruscan artefacts stolen during illegal excavations and hidden away for more than 15 years at Geneva’s free port, have been handed back to Italy, the Geneva prosecutor’s office announced on Thursday. 

    A total of 45 cases of stolen artefacts, including two rare Etruscan earthenware sarcophaguses, bas-reliefs, vases and fragments of decorated vases, frescos, heads, busts, and other antiques, were handed back to the Italian authorities.

  • 12 Jan 2016 6:49 PM | Anonymous

    ISIS’ looting of the Middle East is 'the largest-scale mass destruction of cultural heritage since' WWII

    When ISIS seizes a new city, it often loots the museums and cultural sites for artifacts it can sell on the black market to make money.

    This not only provides a significant source of income for the terrorist group, but it also represents a systematic destruction of the region's cultural heritage. And it's difficult for authorities to recover stolen artifacts or prevent their sale on the black market, according to a report in The New York Times.

  • 11 Jan 2016 9:15 AM | Anonymous

    ‘Broken System’ Allows ISIS to Profit From Looted Antiquities

    By Steven Lee Myers and Nicholas Kulish

    Saturday, 9 Jan 2016 | 10:54 AM ETThe New York Times

    SHUMEN, Bulgaria — Acting on a tip, the police raided four homes in eastern Bulgaria, looking for contraband that regularly traverses this country on the way to markets in Western Europe and America. In one rusting shed behind an apartment block here, they found a cache of looted antiquities: 19 classical statues and fragments of marble or limestone.

    Among them was a square tablet depicting a procession. If genuine, its style would make it neither Roman nor Greek, like the rest, but even older, dating back nearly 5,000 years. Its appearance suggested it came from the ancient Sumerian city of Lagash, in what is today southern Iraq

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