Culture crime news 4–17 February 2019


Hot this week: [Fake?] Bibles and Torah abound

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Egypt Foils Attempt to Smuggle Egyptian Antiquities Into Turkey (Egypt, Turkey)
(4 February 2019; Asharq Al-Awsat)

Stolen Ancient Egyptian Artifact Retrieved at Amsterdam (Egypt)
(13 February 2019; Egyptian Streets)

Former minister’s brother arrested for smuggled antiquities (Egypt)
(14 February 2019; Egypt Independent)

Zahi Hawass demands retrieval of Egypt’s looted artifacts (Egypt)
(14 February 2019; Egypt Today)

Met Museum to Return Prize Artifact Because It Was Stolen (Egypt, USA)
(15 February 2019; The New York Times)

Egypt police find ancient burial site while investigating illegal dig at house near Pyramids (Egypt)
(3 February 2019; Ahram Online)

Illegal excavation near Giza accidentally uncovers ancient tomb (Egypt)
(4 February 2019; Egypt Independent)

Citizen excavating for antiquities near Pyramids arrested (Egypt)
(5 February 2019; Egypt Today)

Museum of Scotland says Egyptian pyramid stone is not stolen (Egypt, UK)
(6 February 2019; The Guardian)

Scotland Insists on Legal Right to Keep Pyramid Stone, Egypt Awaits Documents (Egypt, UK)
(13 February 2019; Asharq Al-Awsat)

Return Africa’s artwork home (General)
(9 February 2019; The Star)

Germany Is Returning Artifacts Stolen From a Namibian Freedom Fighter During Its Colonial Rule (Namibia, Germany)
(15 February 2019; ArtNet News)

Brooklyn Museum’s detective work reveals original owners of African mask (Nigeria, USA)
(7 February 2019; The Art Newspaper)

Lagos Writes British Museum, Demands Return of Stolen Sculpture (Nigeria, UK)
(4 February 2019; This Daily)

Nigeria calls for return of Lander Stool from the British Museum (Nigeria, UK)
(4 February 2019; The Art Newspaper)


Island artist finds Albanian fraudster posting artwork online as his own (Canada)
(3 February 2019; CHEK)

Infamous Nova Scotia art thief dies, shrouded in mystery (Canada)
(13 February 2019; CTV)

Ex-girlfriend says Tillmann not a charming art thief, but a ‘psychopath’ (Canada)
(14 February 2019; CTV)

Wealthy Nova Scotia thief filled home with pilfered artifacts, art (Canada)
(14 February 2019; The Chronicle Herald)

Aumenta en SLP el robo a Iglesias (Mexico)
(15 February 2019; Plano Informativo)

Momia de niño de hace 2.000 años es devuelta a Perú por museo de EE.UU. (Mummy of 2000 year old chil is returned to Peru by US museum; Peru, USA)
(9 February 2019; La Vanguardia)

El hombre que robó las imágenes de la iglesia, regresó y confesó que las vendió en el mercado (Man that stole church paintings returns and confesses that he sold them in the market; Peru)
(12 February 2019; El Tribuno)

Thieves stole architectural gems from USC in a heist that remained hidden for years (USA)
(3 February 2019; Los Angeles Times)

Anonymous flyers call on Penn Museum to return two ‘stolen’ artifacts to China (USA)
(4 February 2019; The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Education, involvement key to Utah archaeological site protection (USA)
(4 February 2019; The Daily Universe)

Millions in artwork, jewelry stolen from Tony Buzbee’s home, police say (USA)
(4 February 2019; The Houston Chronicle)

Vandalism, theft threaten Utah historical sites (USA)
(4 February 2019; The Daily Universe)

A Brush with the Law Prominent Gallery Owner Sentenced for Defrauding Clients (USA)
(7 February 2019;

Boston Artist Recreates Stolen Art From Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (USA)
(7 February 2019; PRNewswire)

Art Museums Need to Address Colonialist Theft—Not Diversity (USA)
(8 February 2019; Vice)

Texas Museum stands by ownership of painting; Jewish family claims it’s looted (USA)
(8 February 2019; The Times of Israel)

A Peek at Some of the Stolen Art the LAPD Is Trying to Track Down (USA)
(11 February 2019; Los Angeles Magazine)

Detective Work Part of the Job for Quinn Emanuel Art Litigators (USA)
(11 February 2019; Bloomberg)

Fighting fraud, theft, and money laundering: meet the man who is the ‘Indiana Jones’ of the art world (USA)
(12 February 2019; The Telegraph)

‘Peanuts’ artwork stolen from Costa Mesa gallery (USA)
(15 February 2019; Los Angeles Times)

Artifacts From Ritchie Valens Family Stolen During Clear Lake Observance (USA)
(16 February 2019; KIWA)

Rare Picasso stolen from Milwaukee art appraiser still not recovered (USA)
(16 February 2019; WDJT)

El patrimonio venezolano de bronce es desvalijado y vendido en Cúcuta (Venezuelan bronze heritage is plundered and sold in Cúcuta; Venezuela)
(9 February 2019; El Nacional)

Priceless V.I. Art, Antiquities Have Gone Missing — But Not Recently (Virgin Islands)
(6 February 2019; The St. Thomas Source)


Serial Art Thief, Who Stole Nearly 250 Artworks, Arrested Yet Again (France)
(14 February 2019; Hyperallergic)

Germany allocates €1.9m for museums to research colonial-era acquisitions (Germany)
(5 February 2019; The Art Newspaper)

Jewish collector’s heirs claim US painting was stolen by Nazis (Germany, USA)
(5 February 2019; Ynet)

Germany still has a problematic approach towards Nazi-era art restitution (Germany)
(15 February 2019; The Globe and Mail)

Art market ‘turns blind eye’ to Hitler fakes (Germany)
(3 February 2019; The Times)

German auction house pulls 26 ‘Hitler paintings’ on forgery fears (Germany)
(7 February 2019; France 24)

Holocaust survivor from Hungary tracks down stolen artwork (Hungary)
(11 February 2019; The Alpena News)

Stolen statues missing since 2011 found (Ireland)
(11 February 2019; Irish Independent)

Ancient looted artworks returned to Italy by Christie’s auction house (Italy, USA)
(13 February 2019; CNN)

Enigmatic Gino De Dominicis subject of complex fakes investigation in Italy (Italy)
(5 February 2019; The Art Newspaper)

Police Accuse Italy’s Former Culture Minister of Authenticating Fake Works by Late Avant Garde Artist Gino De Dominicis (Italy)
(6 February 2019; ArtNet News)

Ex-museum director acquitted of non-return of ancient icons to Russia (Russia)
(4 February 2019; RAPSI)

Swedish police hopeful stolen royal treasure has been found (Sweden)
(6 February 2019; The Nation)

Swedes arrest man tied to return of stolen royal jewels (Sweden)
(8 February 2019; Star Tribune)

An Old Masters scholar claims a 15th-century painting at the U.K.’s National Gallery is a forgery. (UK)
(4 February 2019; Artsy)

Magna Carta back on display at Salisbury Cathedral after hammer attack (UK)
(4 February 2019; Salisbury Journal)

Robbery in Chelsea Gallery (UK)
(7 February 2019; KCW Torday)

Who Owns Culture? (UK, Greece)
(7 February 2019; US News and World Report)

A cautionary tale for would-be UK treasure hunters (UK)
(8 February 2019; Coin World)

Bill to remove time limit for returning Nazi-looted art faces challenge (UK)
(8 February 2019; Jewish News)

Boer War Highland solider found vandalised in Kelvingrove Park (UK)
(15 February 2019; The National)

Second attack on Karl Marx tomb in London’s Highgate cemetery (UK)
(17 February 2019; The Guardian)

‘Stolen’ Banksy art mysteriously returns with `I’m back’ daubed on it (UK)
(14 February 2019; Metro)

Bataclan Banksy Stolen: Who Are The Victims Of Art Theft? (UK)
(15 February 2019; The Oxford Student)


Protected Maori weapons stolen from well known Maori leader in Waikato (New Zealand)
(6 February 2019; New Zealand Herald)

Police uncover ‘priceless’ artefacts in drug search (New Zealand)
(14 February 2019;

‘Offensive’ painting of Māori hero taken from gallery (New Zealand)
(17 February 2019;

South and East Asia

Anger as ‘miscreants’ are caught on camera toppling ancient pillars at UNESCO-listed temple (India)
(1 February 2019;

Three ‘asthadhatu’ idols stolen from temple: Police (India)
(3 February 2019; The Times of India)

Andhra police suspect insider job in theft of crowns from Tirupati temple (India)
(4 February 2019; The News Minute)

Ex-temple official held in idols theft case (India)
(6 February 2019; The Hindu)

Miscreants loot idols, ornaments from Madhavjew Temple in Cuttack (India)
(6 February 2019; Pragativadi)

Man held in Kanyakumari for idol theft (India)
(13 February 2019; The Times of India)

One arrested for idol theft (India)
(14 February 2019; The Times of India)

Tamil Nadu: Case filed 47 yrs after theft of 7 idols worth Rs 110 crore (India)
(15 February 2019; The Times of India)

Tamil Nadu Idol Wing police revive 4-decade-old case (India)
(15 February 2019; The Hindu)

Plea by idol theft kingpin Subash Kapoor dismissed (India)
(16 February 2019; The Hindu)

Two weeks gone by, but cops yet to solve golden crown theft case (India)
(16 February 2019; The Times of India)

Priest steals diamond crown of idol from Mumbai trader’s home, held (India)
(17 February 2019; The Indian Express)

Anuraag Saxena, India Pride Project in the limelight in `Blood Buddhas’ documentary (India)
(12 February 2019; Connected To India)

New film calls for stolen idols to be returned to India (India)
(16 February 2019; The Sunday Guardian)

Picassos, a glass piano and missing billions: scandal of 1MDB reaches court (Malaysia)
(10 February 2019; The Guardian)

Bid to smuggle antique statue in Peshawar foiled (Pakistan)
(8 February 2019; The Express Tribune)

Antiquities worth millions of dollars misplaced during Dr Samad’s time: sources (Pakistan)
(17 February 2019; Ary News)

How the Forbidden City’s treasures ended up divided between Beijing and Taipei (Taiwan, China)
(3 February 2019; South China Morning Post)

West and Central Asia

Persian antiquities found in almost all museums worldwide (Iran)
(11 February 2019; Tehran Times)

Iran Seeks to ‘Recapture’ 2 Achaemenid Relics Taken Decades Ago (Iraq)
(3 February 2019; Albawaba)

Search for Iraq’s Stolen Artifacts Gets Serious (Iraq)
(3 February 2019; Voice of America)

Ancient artefacts looted from Iraq are finally returned home after Jordanian officials caught smugglers with 1,300-piece priceless stash (Iraq, Jordan)
(3 February 2019; The Daily Mail)

Digging Up Controversy (Palestine, Israel)
(5 February 2019; US News and World Report)

Search for undiscovered Dead Sea Scrolls reveals dispute over West Bank artifacts (Palestine, Israel)
(6 February 2019; The Presbyterian Outlook)

1,200-year-old Bible seized in southeastern Turkey’s Diyarbakır (Turkey)
(5 February 2019; Daily Sabah)

4 ancient books depicting life of Jesus seized in Turkey’s Denizli (Turkey)
(12 February 2019; Daily Sabah)

Turkish police find 400-year-old Torah in Aydın province (Turkey)
(15 February 2019; Daily Sabah)

Many calls but little action to stop cultural destruction in Yemen (Yemen)
(15 February 2019; Al Monitor)

In Other News

Stolen bonsai trees ‘like our children’, couple say in plea to thieves (Japan)
(13 February 2019; The Guardian)

Campaigners protest against BP sponsorship of British Museum (UK)
(16 February 2019; The Guardian)

I Fell Under the Spell of NASA’s Most Notorious Thief (USA)
(15 February 2019; The Atlantic)