Ancient Sarcophagus being lifted from a truck by a crane

Culture crime news 16–22 August 2021


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[Photo by Israel Antiquities Authority]


From Costa Rica to Iraq, keeping culture and history intact
(17 August 2021; Christian Science Monitor)

Antiquities smuggling still on the rise
(18 August 2021; The Wild Hunt)

Art attack: spot the forgery
(18 August 2021; E&T)


NY Met to repatriate two Benin Bronzes (Nigeria, USA)
(16 August 2021; The Boar)

Glasgow’s collection of looted Benin bronzes could be repatriated to Nigeria (Nigeria, UK)
(17 August 2021; The Herald)

Germany is to return Nigeria’s Benin Bronzes (Nigeria, Germany)
(18 August 2021; News 24)


Austria Should Repatriate the Mexica Headdress (Mexico, Austria)
(17 August 2021; Hyperallergic)

25 archeological treasures stolen 10 recovered (Panama)
(17 August 2021; MENAFN)

El retiro del guardián de Sipán (The Retirement of the Guardian of Sipán; Peru)
(15 August 2021; La República)

Sacred Indigenous Objects Returned to Southeast (USA)
(13 August 2021; {KINY})

Flattery or forgery? The Clark’s ‘Durer and After’ takes a close look at the fine line that separates the two (USA)
(13 August 2021; The Berkshire Eagle)

Art Forger Sells Over $1 Million in Paintings, Pleads Guilty (USA)
(14 August 2021; Inside Hook)

How 4 college students tried to steal rare books worth millions from a school library — and what got them caught (USA)
(15 August 2021; CNBC)

Indigenous people find legal, cultural barriers to protect sacred spaces off tribal lands (USA)
(16 August 2021; AZ Central)

Dozens of Nazi-looted artworks are exhibiting in New York (USA)
(17 August 2021; CNN)

New York’s Jewish Museum Unveils Exhibit Featuring Nazi-Looted Art by Picasso, Chagall, Matisse (USA)
(18 August 2021; The Algemeiner)

Artists repair Atascadero monolith after second act of vandalism (USA)
(18 August 2021; KSBY)

Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art (USA)
(18 August 2021; Time Out)

Restitution Experts Blast Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts for Refusing to Return a Painting Once Purchased for Hitler’s Museum (USA)
(18 August 2021; ArtNet News)


Denmark Now Has Two Little Mermaids. The Famous One Is Suing. (Denmark)
(17 August 2021; The New York Times)

Extremely rare Greek coin found in anti-smuggling operation (Greece)
(16 August 2021; Greek City Times)

Who will rescue the Parthenon sculptures from its British ‘saviours’? (Greece, USA)
(16 August 2021; Greek City Times)

Lost And Found: Rare Treasures Stolen From Museum Are Returned 50 Years Later (Iceland, Germany)
(13 August 2021; {The Florida Star})

Thieves attempt to steal $1.4M Monet painting in botched museum raid (Netherlands)
(18 August 2021; CNN)

‘Slap in the face’: Poland passes law effectively blocking Holocaust-era art restitutions (Poland)
(16 August 2021; The Art Newspaper)

A New Polish Law Will Make It Practically Impossible to Pursue Restitution Claims for Nazi-Looted Artworks (Poland)
(16 August 2021; ArtNet News)

Polish law on property stolen by Nazis angers Israel (Poland)
(18 August 2021; BBC News)

Swiss Police Seize Historic Painting Stolen From Serbian Castle In 1993 (Serbia, Switzerland)
(13 August 2021; Radio Free Europe)

Roban una campana de 120 kilos de una iglesia (120-kilogram bell stolen from church; Spain)
(15 August 2021; AS)

Police provide list of offences against heritage sites and assets (UK)
(16 August 2021; Dorset Echo)

Macclesfield community rallies behind Silk Museum after break-in (UK)
(18 August 2021; Cheshire Live)

Plea to respect Stonehenge research sites in Pembrokeshire (UK)
(19 August 2021; BBC News)

Newcastle taxi driver stole Goya portrait 60 years ago (UK)
(19 August 2021; The Northern Echo)


The Stolen Star (Australia)
(18 August 2021; ABC Australia)

South and East Asia

Police in SW China’s Sichuan offer up to $7,718 in rewards to assist in search of stolen 1000-year old Buddha statues (China)
(17 August 2021; Global Times)

Toothless antiquities act and clueless custodians (India)
(14 August 2021; The New Indian Express)

UNESCO has estimated that India had lost some 50,000 artefacts until 1989 (India)
(15 August 2021; News in Asia)

Kakinada: Police crack Nandi idol theft case, arrest two (India)
(15 August 2021; Hans News Service)

Watchdog Group Links Rubin-Ladd Foundation, a Prolific Museum Benefactor, to Jailed Antiquities Dealer Subhash Kapoor (India, USA)
(18 August 2021; ArtNet News)

Tara: The Sri Lankan Deity At The British Museum (Sri Lanka, UK)
(18 August 2021; Nation)

Stolen Buddhist artefacts return to Thailand (Thailand, USA)
(19 August 2021; Bangkok Post)

West and Central Asia

The Taliban destroyed Afghanistan’s ancient treasures. Will history repeat itself? (Afghanistan)
(13 August 2021; National Geographic)

Will the Taliban destroy Afghanistan’s priceless treasures? (Afghanistan)
(16 August 2021; The Telegraph)

Amid Taliban insurgency, culture sector fears looting as Kabul descends into chaos (Afghanistan)
(17 August 2021; The Art Newspaper)

‘Do leopards change their spots?’: Taliban threat to heritage in Afghanistan could be worse than in 2001 (Afghanistan)
(17 August 2021; The Art Newspaper)

‘Hand over that sarcophagus, citizen!’ (Israel)
(17 August 2021; Israel Hayom)

Qatari sheikh loses battle over $5.2m ‘fake’ ancient artefacts (Qatar, USA)
(10 August 2021; The National News)

Turkey Arrests 78 in Operation Targeting the Illegal Antiquities Trade (Turkey)
(14 August 2021; OCCRP)

Stolen 16th-century Qur’an to be returned to Turkey (Turkey, UK)
(16 August 2021; Arab News)

In Other News

DeviantArt Is Now Using AI to Spot People Selling Stolen Art as NFTs (General)
(18 August 2021; Vice)

Sardinia’s seasonal crimewave of sand thieves (Italy)
(13 August 2021; The Guardian)

Saga over garment design copyright infringement ends with ceremonial fire (USA)
(13 August 2021; Juneau Empire)