Culture crime news 9–16 February 2020


Hot this week: Human remains, some return home and some do not

Receive ‘Culture crime news’ as a weekly newsletter! Sign up here

You can search the full Culture Crime News media database at


Sufi cultural sites targeted amid ongoing civil war in Libya (Libya)
(16 March 2020; Daily Sabah)

Natural History Museum responds to demands to repatriate ancient human skull back to Africa (Zambia, UK)
(14 March 2020; The Telegraph)

Zimbabwe recovers iconic statues of birds stolen during colonialism (Zimbabwe)
(13 March 2020; UP News)


Robo en otra iglesia de Córdoba: se llevaron los cálices (Theft in another Cordoba church: chalices taken; Argentina)
(11 March 2020; Cadena 3)

Interpol busca más de 5 mil obras de arte que fueron robadas en el país (Interpol looking for more than 5 thousand art objects stolen in the country; Argentina)
(14 March 2020; Perfil)

Beothuk remains returned to Newfoundland after 191 years in Scotland (Canada, UK)
(12 March 2020; CBC)

‘We were horrified’: Fights to repatriate Indigenous ancestral remains continue worldwide (Canada)
(15 March 2020; CBC)

The US Supreme Court’s silence on Nazi art theft fails Holocaust survivors (USA)
(11 March 2020; The Art Newspaper)

California Man Pleads Guilty in $6 Million Art Fraud Case (USA)
(13 March 2020; The New York Times)

‘It’s the First Domino’: After the Museum of the Bible Discovered Its Dead Sea Scrolls Are Fake, the Field Braces for More Revelations (USA, Palestine, Israel)
(16 March 2020; ArtNet News)

How the Gardner Museum’s security head befriended ‘the greatest art thief that ever lived’ (USA)
(14 March 2020; The Boston Globe)

Gardner Museum’s new audio tour follows the footprints of art thieves (USA)
(14 March 2020; The Boston Globe)


Looted by Nazis, almost blown up and now restored: on the trail of the art crime of the century (Belgium)
(11 March 2020; The Telegraph)

Security Guards Are Under Investigation as the $1 Billion Green Vault Heist in Dresden Increasingly Looks Like an Inside Job (Germany)
(9 March 2020; ArtNet News)

Ulay obituary (Germany)
(11 March 2020; The Guardian)

An Exhibition of the Royal Family of Liechtenstein’s Art Collection Has Become Radioactive After a Revival of Accusations About WWII (Liechtenstein)
(10 March 2020; ArtNet News)

Banksy Denies Instructing Alleged Art Thief to Steal His Work (UK)
(10 March 2020; Observer)

Stolen Collection of Persian Poetry Found With Help of ‘Indiana Jones of the Art World’ Goes on Auction (UK, Iran)
(10 March 2020; Smithsonian)

Ancient ruins vandalised at Chester church (UK)
(15 March 2020; Cheshire Live)

Historic Welsh sites to be protected by vandalism patrols (UK)
(16 March 2020; BBC News)

Thieves cause costly damage targeting lead from Somerset’s rural churches (UK)
(15 March 2020; County Gazette)

Crime epidemic: Our historical rural churches are facing a raft of threats (UK)
(16 March 2020; Express)

Van Dyck painting stolen from University of Oxford gallery (UK)
(15 March 2020; BBC News)

Historic, high-value paintings stolen from Oxford college gallery (UK)
(15 March 2020; The Guardian)

South and East Asia

Jim Sanborn’s exhibition ‘Looted?’ explores authenticity and forged antiquity through Cambodian artwork (Cambodia, USA)
(13 March 2020; The Lafayette)

Kingdom works to return artefacts looted during war (Cambodia)
(15 March 2020; The Phnom Penh Post)

Chandigarh: Burglars strike at temple, make off with silver ornaments worth Rs 3.30L (India)
(13 March 2020; The Indian Express)

Precious idols stolen from Purnia temple (India)
(13 March 2020; The Times of India)

Karur police recover seven stolen panchaloha idols, gold ornaments (India)
(14 March 2020; The Times of India)

Rajasthan police arrest two who allegedly stole 400-year-old Krishna idol (India)
(14 March 2020; Hindustan Times)

Idol Wing CID arrests two in Tirusulam (India)
(16 March 2020; The Hindu)

The curious case of Mongolia’s missing dinosaur fossil and how it made its way home (Mongolia)
(15 March 2020; The South China Morning Post)

West and Central Asia

Pending ‘Coronavirus Apocalypse’ Impels Man to Return Ballista Stolen From Jerusalem (Israel)
(16 March 2020; Haaretz)