Culture crime news 2–8 July 2018


Hot this week: Big time pan-European bust

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Returning looted African art is as urgent as giving back works stolen by the Nazis (Angola)
(2 July 2018; The Art Newspaper)

France is preparing to return African artifacts looted in its colonial era (Burkina Faso, Benin, France)
(2 July 2018; Quartz)

Antique sarcophagus found by security forces in Alexandria (Egypt)
(1 July 2018; Egypt Today)

Egypt’s smuggled treasures to Italy exhibited at Egyptian Museum (Egypt)
(4 July 2018; Egypt Today)

Ethiopia claims Ten Commandments tablet hidden in Westminster Abbey (Ethiopia, UK)
(2 July 2018; The Art Newspaper)

Westminster Abbey urged by African ambassador to hand over looted relic (Ethiopia, UK)
(4 July 2018; Premier)

Njelele shrine bombed (Zimbabwe)
(3 July 2018; Zimbabwe Daily)


Walter Alva, el otro Señor de Sipán (Walter Alva, the other Lord of Sipán; Peru)
(8 July 2018; El Peruano)

The US Postal Service Must Pay an Artist $3.5 Million After Accidentally Printing His Version of the Statue of Liberty on Billions of Stamps (USA)
(3 July 2018; ArtNet News)

Old Master saga: expert hired by vendor to prove Saint Jerome’s authenticity says it is a fake (USA)
(3 July 2018; The Art Newspaper)

Counterfeit versions of $10,000 Super Bowl rings intercepted by US border control officers (USA)
(5 July 2018; Illicit Trade News Network)

State Museum’s stolen tomahawk returned, will go on display (USA)
(5 July 2018; Times Union)

Should the Getty Return Its Famed “Victorious Youth” Statue? (USA, Italy)
(5 July 2018; Hyperallergic)

St. Pete Chihuly Collection heist still a mystery two years later (USA)
(6 July 2018; Tampa Bay Times)

Court rules 1565 shipwreck found off the Florida coast belongs to France because the vessel was made there, and NOT to the salvage company which discovered it (USA, France)
(7 July 2018; The Daily Mail)

Reward offered in 40-year-old artifact theft from Moundville (USA)
(7 July 2018; AL)


Archaeologists urge Albania to protect underwater heritage (Albania)
(6 July 2018; Herald-Whig)

Meet the expert who will destroy the value of your art for free (France)
(2 July 2018; The Malaysian Reserve)

The Billionaire Wildenstein Art-Dealing Dynasty Is Cleared in France’s Biggest Tax-Fraud Case (Again) (France)
(2 July 2018; ArtNet News)

French and Swiss Museums to Share a Cézanne With a Murky Past (France, Switzerland)
(3 July 2018; The New York Times)

Berlin museum returns Nazi-looted 15th century relic to Jewish collector’s heirs (Germany)
(2 July 2018; i24 News)

Police arrest 2 suspected illicit icon traders in Achaia (Greece)
(2 July 2018; eKathimerini)

Amid a Wave of Repatriation, Sotheby’s Stands Its Ground Against Greece’s Claim to an 8th-Century Bronze Horse (Greece, USA)
(2 July 2018; ArtNet News)

Suspended museum employee in new legal challenge (Ireland)
(7 July 2018; Irish Independent)

Pompeii at risk from terrorists — and visitors (Italy)
(2 July 2018; The Times)

Italian police smash £30m international ancient artefact smuggling ring (Italy)
(4 July 2018; The Telegraph)

Artefacts worth €40m recovered in raids across Europe (Italy, Spain, Germany, UK)
(4 July 2018; BBC News)

Deadly Poison Stolen From Leiden Museum (Netherlands)
(5 July 2018; NLTimes)

The Saga of “The Oyster Meal” (Netherlands)
(6 July 2018; Blouin Artinfo)

Huge disparity in estimates to repair vandalised Ivan the Terrible painting (Russia)
(4 July 2018; The Art Newspaper)

Roban las joyas de la Virgen de la iglesia de Villamayor de Calatrava (Jewels of the Virgin of the church of Villamayor de Calatrava stolen; Spain)
(5 July 2018; ABC Spain)

Titanic Artifacts Caught in International Tug-of-War (UK)
(2 July 2018; National Geographic)

Global Fight Against Terror-Tainted Black Market Antiquities Intensifies (UK)
(3 July 2018; The Jerusalem Post)

Tory MP who blocked ‘up-skirting’ law, to obstruct bill on return of Nazi-looted art (UK)
(5 July 2018; Jewish News)

Mystery as golden eagle stolen 25 years ago from Britain’s only US war cemetery returns on Independence Day (UK, USA)
(6 July 2018; The Telegraph)


Stolen korowai returned (New Zealand)
(2 July 2018; Maori Television)

South and East Asia

Three men are arrested for stealing artefacts (Cambodia)
(5 July 2018; The Phnom Penh Post)

Man charged with theft of artefacts from pagoda (Cambodia)
(5 July 2018; Khmer Times)

Jaya Durga ‘Astadhatu’ Idols, Crown Stolen From Temple At Sakhigopal (India)
(30 June 2018; Odisha TV)

Why cash-strapped Air India’s priceless artefacts will not be sold off (India)
(6 July 2018; The Week)

Palani idol theft: former HR&CE; official surrenders (India)
(7 July 2018; The Hindu)

Miscreants loot Hanuman temple in Keonjhar (India)
(8 July 2018; Update Odisha)

Idol theft accused arrested in Tirunelveli (India)
(8 July 2018; Deccan Chronicle)

West and Central Asia

PA seizes 2,571 artefacts in Hebron (Palestine)
(5 July 2018; Middle East Monitor)