Cultural Heritage News

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  • 26 Jan 2015 7:28 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    £38 Million Trove Of Stolen Antiquities Uncovered In Swiss Raid

    23-01-2015
     

    The Swiss and Italian police have uncovered a massive Swiss-Italian antiquities smuggling ring. Police seized 5,361 vases, bronze statues, and frescoes worth an estimated £38 Million, or €50 million, during a raid on a number of Swiss warehouses, the Guardian reports.

    The head of the Italian military police, Carabinieri General Mariano Mossa stated to the press, “This is by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of the archaeological treasures." The artworks date from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century BC and were displayed for journalists at the Terme di Diocleziano National Roman Museum.

    The trove was found during an investigation into the dealings of the Sicilian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina and his Swiss wife Ursula Juraschek. The duo are allegedly part of a smuggling ring that sourced antiquities from illegal excavations in southern Italy, sent them for restoration in Switzerland, and sold them around the world with forged documents of provenance. 

    http://www.artlyst.com/articles/38-million-trove-of-stolen-antiquities-uncovered-in-swiss-raid
  • 22 Jan 2015 1:41 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Rome unveils record seizure of looted antiquities


    Italian police display recovered stolen treasures

    Italian art police unveiled their largest-ever single seizure of looted antiquities, comprising more than 5,000 archaeological items, during a press conference at Rome's Terme di Diocleziano museum on 21 January.

    The recovered booty includes ancient Greek statues, amphorae, frescoes and vases, all illegally looted from southern Italy. Estimating the seizure's total value at about €50 million, police say it was by far their "largest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of the archaeological treasures."  

    http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/2003660/rome-unveils-record-seizure-of-looted-antiquities.html
  • 20 Jan 2015 11:34 PM | Anonymous

    The US Supreme Court today, 20 January, declined to hear the Pasadena-based Norton Simon Museum’s appeal in a case contesting its ownership of a life-size pair of paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder.Adam and Eve, around 1530, belonged to the Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, who fled the Netherlands in 1940 after the Nazi invasion.

    The Supreme Court’s rejection allows Goudstikker’s heir, Marei von Saher, who has been battling for the paintings in federal court since 2007, to continue her lawsuit. It also leaves standing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that pursuing her claims does not interfere with the US government’s conduct of foreign affairs. 

    http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Supreme-Court-rejects-Norton-Simons-appeal-in-looted-art-case/36823

  • 20 Jan 2015 1:38 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Museums and the plunder of antiquities

    Widespread turmoil in civil war-torn Middle Eastern and African countries has led to thievery from cultural sites

    Published on Jan 20, 2015 8:18 AM
     

    One positive result of the warming relationship between India and Australia has been the return of priceless antiquities to India that had ended up surreptitiously in Australian art galleries.

    This month came news that the Australian government will return a stolen Kushan-period Buddha statue dating back to the second century BC that had surfaced in Canberra's National Gallery of Art (NGA) in 2007.

    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/museums-and-the-plunder-antiquities-20150120#sthash.SJVwu29V.dpuf 

  • 20 Jan 2015 1:37 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Thais to return looted Cambodian antiquities

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia/BANGKOK – Thailand is to return ancient Khmer artifacts looted from temples during the turmoil of the 1970s, Cambodian officials said Monday.

    According to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, dozens of stolen relics were confiscated by Thai authorities in 1999 and Thailand has now agreed to return 16.

    Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told The Anadolu Agency that discussions over the remaining items are continuing. 

    http://www.turkishpress.com/news/418809/

  • 15 Jan 2015 2:06 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Auction House Guilty of Rhino Horn Smuggling

         (CN) - The president of an exclusive Boynton Beach, Fla. auction house pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to smuggle rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and coral to China.
         Christopher Hayes, president of Elite Estate Buyers, admitted to being part of a conspiracy to falsify shipping documents and use third-parties to get the illegal items out of the country. 

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/01/15/auction-house-guilty-of-rhino-horn-smuggling.htm
  • 30 Dec 2014 12:20 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Looting Is the Greatest Threat to Our Cultural Heritage in Syria

    And there are a few positive signs it can be curtailed.

    Kalat al-Numan citadel, Idlib province, SYRIA undefined Can the worst patrimonial disaster since World War II be stopped?

    No matter how badly this observer periodically assesses the threat to our cultural heritage as he travels across Syria, the reality always turns out to be worse. As we enter 2015, much of Syria has been reduced to apocalyptic landscapes. During the 45 months of the Syrian crisis, war destruction inflicted from all sides has created massive damage to our shared global cultural heritage that has been in the custody of the Syrian people for more than ten millennia.

    Few would dispute the fact that the level of destruction of Syria’s archaeological sites has become catastrophic. Unauthorized excavations, plunder, and trafficking in stolen cultural artifacts in Syria is a serious and escalating problem and threatens the cultural heritage of us all. Due to illicit excavations, many objects have already been lost to science and society. 

    http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/12/29/looting-is-the-greatest-threat-to-our-cultural-heritage-in-syria/
  • 18 Dec 2014 12:10 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Groups protest sale of drilling rights in Utah archaeological areas

    First Published Dec 17 2014 12:18PM       Last Updated Dec 17 2014 10:26 pm

    With the Bureau of Land Management poised to offer new oil and gas leases in the heart of southeast Utah’s archaeological stronghold, various groups are demanding the agency reconsider 10 parcels slated for auction in February because it has not adequately documented cultural resources on them.

    "These parcels are located amidst one of the densest concentrations of cultural resources in Utah, if not the American Southwest. These cultural resources are sacred to several Native American tribes, including the Hopi," wrote Amy Cole, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a protest to the BLM.

    Friends of Cedar Mesa and the National Parks Conservation Association joined the protest, asking BLM state director Juan Palma to "defer" leasing decisions on parcels covering 11,027 acres mostly in and around Montezuma Canyon. 

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/1960442-155/groups-protest-sale-of-drilling-rights
  • 18 Dec 2014 10:09 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Cambodia asks to see Pongpat trove

    The Cambodian government has asked to inspect the huge trove of antiques and art seized from the network of suspects linked to disgraced former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan after learning it may contain dozens of ancient Khmer sculptures, a media report said Wednesday. 

    The Phnom Penh Post reported that the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok wrote a letter nearly early this month to Thai government officials requesting access to the nearly two billion baht in assets seized from Pol Lt Gen Pongpat and a ring of aides and subordinates charged with him on a number of serious offenses.

    The paper quoted Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong saying Thai officials have not yet replied to the request. L 

    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asean/450407/cambodia-asks-to-see-pongpat-trove
  • 18 Dec 2014 8:15 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Status of Syria’s Tentative World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery     

    Executive Summary
    Introduction
    Data and Methods
    World Heritage Site Analysis
         1. The Ancient Site of Dura-Europos
         2. The Ancient Site of Ebla
         3. Hama’s Historic Waterwheels
         4. The Ancient Site of Mari
         5. The Old City of Raqqa
         6. The Archaeological Site of Ugarit
    Conclusion
    Acknowledgements
    References Cited

    Executive Summary

    Following an earlier report on the World Heritage Sites of Syria,1 the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) undertook an assessment of Syria’s Tentative World Heritage sites using high-resolution satellite imagery. Syria has nominated twelve sites to the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List2 and AAAS will produce two reports, each consisting of six sites, on the current state of those sites. This report details the condition of: Dura Europos, Ebla, Hama’s Waterwheels, Mari, Raqqa, and Ugarit (Figure 1). The purpose of the assessment was to determine the current status of each site. Analysis indicates that four of the six Tentative World Heritage sites assessed in this report exhibit significant damage. 

    http://www.aaas.org/page/ancient-history-modern-destruction-assessing-status-syria-s-tentative-world-heritage-sites-7
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