Culture crime news 10–23 August 2020


Hot this week: The loss of Paolo Ferri

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What Defines a Museum? The Question Has Thrown the Art World’s Leading Professional Organization Into Turmoil
(10 August 2020; ArtNet News)

Museums’ grip on stolen goods is loosening
(12 August 2020; The Times)


Benin restores slavery monuments to testify to brutal past (Benin)
(11 August 2020; France 24)

Burundi to demand €36 billion from Germany, Belgium for colonial rule: report (Burundi, Germany, Belgium)
(16 August 2020; DW)

How recent anti-racism protests have pushed a longstanding debate about colonial looting in Europe (General)
(14 August 2020; The Art Newspaper)

More than 30 headstones damaged at South African Jewish cemetery (South Africa)
(21 August 2020; Forward)

Living cultures: decolonising cultural spaces (Tanzania, Kenya, UK)
(11 August 2020; Ecologist)


Auction House Repatriates Sacred Indigenous Items, Possibly a Human Scalp (Canada, Germany)
(11 August 2020; Vice)

The long, dark past behind the National Gallery’s latest acquisition (Canada)
(13 August 2020; MacLean’s)

Ammonite theft case may be headed to trial (Canada)
(22 August 2020; Lethbridge Herald)

Nuevo libro pide a España devolver el Tesoro Quimbaya a Colombia (New book asks Spain to return the Quimbaya Treasury to Colombia; Colombia, Spain)
(10 August 2020; El Espectador)

Guatemala repatriará dos piezas arqueológicas devueltas desde EEUU (Guatemala will received two repatriated archaeological pieces returned from the US; Guatemala, USA)
(14 August 2020; Infobae)

Two model cars worth thousands were stolen from Mexico’s Antique Toy Museum (Mexico)
(14 August 2020; The Yucatan Times)

Art adviser sues Rudy Giuliani for $15,000 in unpaid fees (USA)
(10 August 2020; The Art Newspaper)

The Museum of the Bible Is in Discussions With Iraq to Reach a Settlement Over Thousands of Disputed Antiquities in Its Collection (USA, Iraq)
(11 August 2020; ArtNet News)

The Inside Story of the $8 Million Heist From the Carnegie Library (USA)
(20 August 2020; Smithsonian)

How a Star Harvard Professor Got Suckered by ‘Jesus’ Wife’ (USA)
(10 August 2020; Daily Beast)

What Ever Happened to the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife? (USA)
(11 August 2020; The Atlantic)


Hunt is on for rightful owner of Nazi-looted French painting (France)
(20 August 2020; The Guardian)

Nazi-looted French painting on display in search for rightful owner (France)
(20 August 2020; The Times of Israel)

Database is at the heart of the Italian art squad (Italy)
(17 August 2020; Innovation Origins)

Paolo Giorgio Ferri obituary (Italy)
(20 August 2020; The Times)

Romanian Billionaire Poisoned by Call Girl at Sex Club Featuring `Virgin’ Ponies (Romania)
(19 August 2020; Daily Beast)

Artist Abel Azcona Calls on His Native Spain to Atone for Its Colonial Legacy (Spain)
(10 August 2020; Artsy)

A Scholar and an Art Institute Are Currently Waging a Scorched-Earth Legal Battle Over Valuable Modigliani Research (Spain, USA)
(18 August 2020; ArtNet News)

Pasadena Appeals Court Rules Against Heir in Nazi-Looted Art Case (Spain, USA)
(19 August 2020; Pasadena Now)

Appeal as ‘last remaining fragments’ of ancient Sherwood Forest targeted by vandals (UK)
(10 August 2020; Nottingham Post)

Top forger Max Brandrett is a victim of his own success (UK)
(15 August 2020; The Times)

Trio admit stealing lead from Lincolnshire churches (UK)
(21 August 2020; Louth Leader)


Explainer: who owns the copyright to your tattoo? (Australia)
(10 August 2020; The Conversation)

Te Papa defrauded of $120,000 over more than a year (New Zealand)
(17 August 2020;

South and East Asia

US Returns 10 Smuggled Artefacts To India; Here Are Six Reasons Why This Is Significant (India, USA)
(15 August 2020; Swarajya)

American Authorities Have Returned 10 Looted Antiquities Worth a Combined $1.2 Million Back to India (India, USA)
(20 August 2020; ArtNet News)

Japanese ninja museum caught with guard down by thieves who stole 1m yen (Japan)
(21 August 2020; The Guardian)

‘Adventurer scholar’ Douglas Latchford dies in Bangkok, aged 89 (Thailand, Cambodia)
(10 August 2020; The Art Newspaper)

Calls to repatriate relics after death of controversial British art dealer ‘Dynamite Doug’ (Thailand, Cambodia)
(15 August 2020; The Telegraph)

Douglas Latchford: The Man Who Pillaged Cambodia (Thailand, Cambodia)
(21 August 2020; The Diplomat)

West and Central Asia

Michael Rakowitz’s Art of Return (Iraq)
(17 August 2020; The New Yorker)

In Iraq, Authorities Continue To Fight Uphill Battle Against Antiquities Plunder (Iraq)
(20 August 2020; NPR)

After Dead Sea Forgeries Exposed, How Do We Know the Scrolls in Israel Are Authentic? (Israel)
(12 August 2020; Haaretz)

Valuable statues ‘worth millions’ stolen from kibbutz museum in northern Israel (Israel)
(19 August 2020; The Times of Israel)