Culture crime news 3–9 August 2020


Hot this week: In depth on art and money laundering

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Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar [Review]
(11 August 2020; Anonymous Swiss Collector)
Strange story of a fake artefact and the people who needed it to be real. I really enjoyed this new book.

The Art Industry and U.S. Policies that Undermine Sanctions, U.S. Senate Report [Review]
(10 August 2020; Anonymous Swiss Collector)
Judoligarchs! Money is laundered via art and the market needs much more regulation


Top Three Houses See 79 Percent Year-Over-Year Drop in Second Quarter of 2020: Report
(5 August 2020; Art Market Monitor)


France Moves Closer To Restitution Of Artefacts To Benin And Senegal (Benin, Senegal, France)
(30 July 2020; Modern Ghana)

Returning Lost and Stolen African Art and Antiquities (General)
(7 August 2020; Voice of America)

Igbo group calls for return of stolen artifacts (Nigeria, France)
(4 August 2020; The Sun)

Ọgbakọ Odinani Worldwide calls for the return of stolen artifacts (Nigeria)
(8 August 2020; The Nation)

Mbuya Nehanda’s remains are still in a London Museum as she is insulted by Ryton Dzimiri (Zimbabwe, UK)
(2 August 2020; Bulawayo 24)


België geeft gestolen Maya-masker terug aan Guatemala (Belgium gives stolen Maya mask to Guatemala; Guatemala, Belgium)
(3 August 2020; De Standard)

EU impulsa ley para explotar zona maya (US Promotes Law to Exploit Maya Region; Mexico, Guatemala, USA)
(2 August 2020; El Occidental)

Taylor Swift Responds to Accusations of ‘Stealing’ Folklore Merch Logo from Black Designer (USA)
(30 July 2020; People)

Stolen artifact from Pisgah Forest could cost thief up to $20,000 (USA)
(30 July 2020; WCTV)

D.C. Museum Of The Bible To Return Looted Artifacts To Iraq (USA, Iraq)
(31 July 2020; NPR)

Forgery Forensics: How the Smithsonian Helped Identify Two Stolen Columbus Letters (USA)
(2 August 2020; 60 Minutes)

Trading in Native artifacts does real harm (USA)
(3 August 2020; High Country News)

Martha Nierenberg, Holocaust survivor who sought to reclaim looted family art collection, dies at 96 (USA, Hungary)
(6 August 2020; The Washington Post)

Woes over Warhols and fights over Van Dycks: the explosive and expensive world of family art feuds (USA)
(8 August 2020; The Telegraph)

Using Art to Evade Sanctions and Launder Money: The Senate Report (USA)
(6 August 2020; JDSupra)

Not a pretty picture: Money laundering and America’s art market (USA)
(8 August 2020; The Hill)

Art Companies Jostle for Ownership of Basquiat Painting in New Inigo Philbrick–Related Lawsuit (USA)
(4 August 2020; ARTnews)

As Fallout From the Inigo Philbrick Scandal Rages on, Investors Go to Court to Claim Ownership of a $12 Million Twice-Sold Basquiat Painting (USA)
(7 August 2020; ArtNet News)

Facebook’s Looted-Artifact Problem (USA)
(31 July 2020; Atlantic)

Facebook Has Moved To Ban Sales Of Looted Antiquities. Will It Make A Difference? (USA)
(31 July 2020; NPR)


How police reclaimed a stolen Bataclan Banksy in Italy (France, Italy)
(1 August 2020; The Local)

Private enterprise — the individuals who are taking restitution into their own hands (General)
(1 August 2020; Apollo)

Activist curators are sharpening the debate on restitution (General)
(8 August 2020; The Economist)

Stolen religious icon returned from UK (Greece, UK)
(4 August 2020; eKathimerini)

Greece steps up efforts for return of Parthenon Sculptures ahead of 200th anniversary of War of Independence (Greece, UK)
(6 August 2020; Global Times)

Who’s stealing Christopher Columbus letters from libraries around the world? (Italy, USA)
(2 August 2020; 60 Minutes)

Fascist banners worth millions of pounds stolen from state archive in Italy (Italy)
(4 August 2020; The Telegraph)

The Rembrandt hunter: meet the Dutch dealer who is shaking up the art world (Netherlands)
(6 August 2020; The Telegraph)

Mount Pleasant man’s lawsuit to recover Dutch paintings hits snag (Netherlands, USA)
(8 August 2020; The Post and Courier)

150 Jewish Gravestones Uprooted by the Nazis Found in Polish Town (Poland)
(9 August 2020; Haaretz)

Spanish police recover ancient treasure from alleged looter (Spain)
(2 August 2020; The Guardian)

Kew Gardens pledges to root out thieves stealing ‘priceless’ plants (UK)
(31 July 2020; The Telegraph)

Mystery as ‘Banksy’ mural on Birnbeck pier removed (UK)
(1 August 2020; Somerset Live)

Metal detectorist guards £100k hoard of silver for two sleepless nights over ‘nighthawk’ fears (UK)
(3 August 2020; The Telegraph)

Men stole historic ship log from floating museum in drunken prank (UK)
(7 August 2020; East Anglian Daily Times)


Brexit ‘should prompt UK to rethink attitude to Indigenous artefacts’ (Australia, UK)
(3 August 2020; The Guardian)

South and East Asia

Stolen in 1998, rare Shiva statue on way from London to India (India, UK)
(30 July 2020; Hindustan Times)

Amman, Perumal idols unearthed from Cauvery river (India)
(3 August 2020; The Times of India)

Kurunegala Mayor and four others face arrest over damaging of historical building (Sri Lanka)
(7 August 2020; The Island)

West and Central Asia

Viewpoint: The Case of the Forged Persian Antiquities (Iran)
(31 July 2020; Claims Journal)

Tehran, Athens Discuss Ways to Cooperate in Cultural Heritage (Iran, Greece)
(3 August 2020; Tehran Times)