Culture crime news 3–9 February 2020


Hot this week: Back from Maternity Leave!

After a year of maternity leave and after a move from Glasgow University to Maastricht University, Culture Crime News is back. It may be a slow return until I have hired some research support, but expect at least some updates as I settle back in to working life and in to Dutch life.

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Germany needs to confront its not-so-hidden history of colonial slaughter in Namibia (Namibia, Germany)
(6 February 2020; Daily Maverick)

Unlimited Inventiveness: Horniman Museum To Discuss Benin Artefacts With Nigerian And British Artists In London (Nigeria, UK)
(3 February 2020; Modern Ghana)

Man to appear in court for allegedly stealing Pierneef painting from Free State premier’s office (South Africa)
(3 February 2020; News 24)


Devon museum in repatriation dispute over indigenous relics (Canada, UK)
(2 February 2020; The Guardian)

‘Bringing a chief home’: Tribe celebrates return of headdress, hopes for more repatriation victories (Canada, USA)
(6 February 2020; Casper Star Tribune)

A Gauguin sculpture that wasn’t, and the sleuth whose fight with the Getty isn’t over (USA, Tahiti)
(5 February 2020; Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Public Library Offers 10K Reward for Sculpture Missing Since 1969 (USA)
(6 February 2020; Hyperallergic)

What Happens When Antiquities are Obliterated? A Sociologist Investigates (USA)
(6 February 2020; UVAToday)

The Mystery of the Painting in Gallery 634 (USA, Germany)
(8 February 2020; The New York Times)

These southern Utah sites were once off-limits to development. Now, Trump will auction the right to drill and graze there. (USA)
(6 February 2020; The Washington Post)

Trump’s Impeachment Lawyer Alan Dershowitz May Have Owned Looted Antiquities, an Art Crime Expert Says (USA)
(7 February 2020; ArtNet News)


Painting looted by Nazis found in Royal Library of Belgium (Belgium)
(4 February 2020; Brussels Times)

A Gaming Billionaire’s Questionable Trove of Ancient Artifacts Is Raided by Bulgarian Authorities (Bulgaria)
(3 February 2020; ArtNet News)

‘Lost’ artworks go on show in split Cyprus 45 years on (Cyprus)
(4 February 2020; Warrington Guardian)

An Artist Meets the Thief Who Stole Her Work in an Astonishing New Documentary (Czech Republic)
(5 February 2020; Observer)

Banksy Theft Solved? Two Arrested in Paris for Pompidou Center Heist (France)
(6 February 2020; Observer)

Why France is dragging its feet to repatriate looted African artworks (France, Nigeria)
(6 February 2020; The Africa Report)

Bungled Fontainebleau theft shines a spotlight on organised crime in the art world (France)
(7 February 2020; EU-OCS)

A Nazi-looted art database prevailed in German court after a collector demanded it take down a painting. (Germany)
(4 February 2020; Artsy)

Brexit has strengthened the cause for return of the Parthenon Marbles (Greece, UK)
(6 February 2020; Neos Kosmos)

Picasso art thief has sentence doubled (Spain)
(4 February 2020; ERN News)

Roban la Virgen de la Inmaculada de un altar en una calle de Osuna (Spain)
(4 February 2020; Diario de Sevilla)

Robo en el retablo del Rosario de la iglesia de Santo Domingo (Altarpiece of the Rosary stolen from the church of Santo Domingo; Spain)
(6 February 2020; Diario de Jerez)

Roban la corona del Niño Jesús de la Virgen del Rosario de Lorquí (Crown of the Baby Jesus from the Virgin of the Rosary of Lorquí stolen; Spain)
(7 February 2020; La Verdad)

Los vigilantes del patrimonio rural (The Guardians of Rural Heritage; Spain)
(8 February 2020; Burgos Conecta)

Detectorists helped us find Roman Britain (UK)
(6 February 2020; The Times)

Sad Max and rueful Elvis after painting stolen from Geldart (UK)
(6 February 2020; Cambridge Independent)

London Police Have Issued an Arrest Warrant for Art Heiress Angela Gulbenkian After She Skipped Her Court Date (UK)
(7 February 2020; ArtNet News)

South and East Asia

Antiquities hunters arrested in Preah Vihear (Cambodia)
(6 February 2020; Khmer Times)

Blood Buddhas: Not just about theft of antiquities, but a portrayal of much deeper malaise of societal apathy towards heritage (India)
(4 February 2020; Op India)

Desired, stolen, cursed: the history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond (India, UK)
(4 February 2020; History Extra)

Five antique idols seized in Pudukottai (India)
(5 February 2020; The Hindu)

West and Central Asia

The Afghan artefacts that survived Taliban destruction (Afghanistan)
(4 February 2020; BBC News)

Looted ancient temple sculpture—seized by UK police—will go home to Afghanistan (Afghanistan, UK)
(5 February 2020; The Art Newspaper)

Arab Parliament Reveals Law to Protect Antiquities (General)
(5 February 2020; Asharq Al-Awsat)

Three arrested for selling artifacts (Jordan)
(5 February 2020; Roya News)

Reconstructing the nation, one dome at a time (Syria)
(6 February 2020; Syria Direct)

Turkish ministry seeks return of Panagia Soumela artefacts (Turkey, Greece)
(4 February 2020; Neos Kosmos)

In Other News

Fossil theft suspect may seek new lawyer (Canada)
(6 February 2020; Lethbridge Herald)

Italy’s Uffizi Gallery hails US online tout ruling (Italy, USA)
(6 February 2020; France 24)

Rare footy shirt swiped from National Football Museum in Manchester (UK)
(3 February 2020; Manchester Evening News)

Plagiarism allegation roils Michigan State, museum (USA)
(6 February 2020; The Detroit News)