Looted

Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland

“Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland”

by Nevine El-Aref via “Ahram Online

swiss

“A collection of 32 ancient Egyptian artefacts is to return back to Egypt in June after Egypt successfully asserted ownership of the objects.

Ali Ahmed, director of antiquities repatriation, told Ahram Online that the objects included limestone and wooden statues as well as a collection of limestone blocks from chapels across dfferent pharaonic periods.

The objects were seized by the Swiss police within the framework of a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Switzerland that prohibits the illegal import and export of cultural properties.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty said the objects are to be handed over to Egypt’s ambassador to Switzerland at the Federal Office for Culture in Bern during an event to mark tenth anniversary of the passage into Swiss law of a prohibition on illegal trade in cultural property.”

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“Australia Returns Two Stolen Ancient, Priceless Idols to India”

“Australia Returns Two Stolen Ancient, Priceless Idols to India”

via “IBNLive.com”

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.

Australia returns two stolen ancient, priceless idols to India

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is personally delivering the Dancing Shiva or Nataraja Ardand and Ardhanarishvara to Narendra Modi.

The Australian returns mark the first major repatriations in the Kapoor case, but are unlikely to be the last. Dozens more Kapoor objects acquired by the Australian museums were sold with false ownership histories similar to those used with the returned objects. Several will likely play a prominent role in Kapoor’s criminal trial in Chennai, India, which has been on hold pending the return of the NGA’s looted Shiva says an exclusive website for the Hunt for Looted Antiquities in the World’s Museums ‘Chasing Aphrodite’.

The Tamil Nadu Police had produced evidence to establish that the idol was stolen from a temple at Sripuranthan in Tamil Nadu. They had arrested Kapoor for his alleged involvement in the theft. He is now lodged in the Chennai prison and is facing trial.

Meanwhile, Kapoor’s international network of looters and smugglers is still being mapped by authorities in the United States, who have already seized over Rs 600 crore ($100 million) in art from the dealer’s Manhattan gallery and storage facilities.

Federal investigators in the United States are methodically working through mountains of evidence seized from Kapoor, probing his ties to a number of American and foreign museums that did business with the dealer. Indian authorities, meanwhile, are considering a broader campaign to reclaim stolen antiquities from foreign institutions.

Over the past two years, we’ve traced hundreds of suspect Kapoor objects to museums around the world. To date, the Kapoor case has received the most attention in Australia, whose National Gallery for months stonewalled press and government inquiries and dismissed mounting evidence before agreeing to take the stolen idol off display. The Art Gallery of New South Wales took a slightly more proactive approach, releasing the ownership history that Kapoor supplied for its sculpture of Ardhanarishvara (left.) Soon after, Indian art blogger Vijay Kumar identified the temple from which the sculpture was stolen. . . . .

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A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

Old Article but Still Interesting **DB

A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

by Seth Mydans via “NY Times

A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

“HANOI, Vietnam — Even the director of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum here doesn’t know how many of the artworks and artifacts under his care are genuine and how many are extremely skillful copies. But he says he is going to try to find out.

Many works at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum could be copies that were made to replace the endangered originals during the Vietnam War. Now it is unclear which are real and which are fake.
Bui Thanh Phuong in his home, with works by his father, Bui Xuan Phai. He called the unmonitored art switch “a disaster.”There are nearly 20,000 of these mystery objects, on the walls and in storage, including paintings, sculpture, lacquerware, pottery, ancient statues and traditional crafts.

“We are making efforts to have a comprehensive review of items on display and in our warehouse,” said the director, Truong Quoc Binh. “After we evaluate the whole exhibit, we will try to label them all to show if they are original or not.”

Mr. Binh has been addressing questions about authenticity a lot lately. Curators and artists have been aware of the issue for years, but it became a matter of public discussion only in April, when it was raised at a conference on copyright in Danang.

In large part, the confusion is a legacy of the war with the United States, which ended in 1975, and to a lesser extent of a brief border war fought with China in 1979.

In the late 1960s, fearing that the United States would bomb Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam, museum officials removed hundreds of important artworks for safekeeping in the countryside.

To replace them on the museum walls, it commissioned copies: some by the original artists, some by the artists’ apprentices, some by skilled copyists in the museum’s restoration department. They were brilliant reproductions — or variants, as the Vietnamese called those paintings copied by the original artists.”

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Cambodia Welcomes Return of 1,000-year-old Statues

“Cambodia Welcomes Return of 1,000-year-old Statues”

by Sopheng Cheang via “Monteray Herald

Three 1,000-year-old statues depicting Hindu mythology were welcomed home to Cambodia on Tuesday after being looted from a temple during the country’s civil war and put in Western art collections.

The pieces were handed over at a ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and U.S. diplomat Jeff Daigle after being returned by the U.S. branches of auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and the Norton Simon Museum in California.

Cambodian officials say the statues were looted in the 1970s by being hacked off their bases in the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province, also home to the Angkor Wat temples. (more…)

Metropolitan Museum of Art Found to House Looted Art

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Python bell-krater acquired in 1989 matches object documented in confiscated Medici archive, according to forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis: “The evidence suggests that the vase has most likely been unlawfully removed from Italian soil”

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin via “ARCA

The Classic Greek mixing-bowl attributed to the artist Python (active ca. 350 – 325 BC) of Poseidonia (Paestan) on display in Gallery 161 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City should be returned to Italy because it has no collecting history before 1989 and has been matched with photographs in the possession of a convicted art dealer, according to the work of University of Cambridge’s Christos Tsirogiannis. (You can see The Met’s description of the object online here ). 
This terracotta bell-krater, described in detail in Dr. Tsirogiannis’ column “Nekyia” in the Spring 2014 issue ofThe Journal of Art Crime, appears with soil/salt encrustations in five photographs from the confiscated Medici archive – including one Polaroid image. Then, “The object was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in June 1989 and the same year appeared as part of The Met’s antiquities collection,” Dr. Tsirogiannis reports.
Art dealer Giacomo Medici was convicted in 2005 of participating in the sale of looted antiquities. The story of how illicit antiquities were sold to art galleries and museums in Europe and North America was told in the 2006 book by Peter Watson & Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy: the illicit journey of looted antiquities, from Italy’s tomb raiders to the world’s greatest museums(Public Affairs). The Medici archives (or “Medici Dossier”)  were described as “thirty albums of Polaroids, fifteen envelopes with photographs, and twelve envelopes with rolls of film … [along with] 100 full rolls of exposed film … [for] a total of 3,600 images” found in Medici’s warehouse of antiquities in Geneva in 1995. . . . .

 

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