Culture crime news 2–8 November 2020


Hot this week: France coming close to cultural object return?

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

You can search the full Culture Crime News media database at

Book Reviews

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist by Anthony M. Amore
Art thieves are almost never women, she’s is the fascinating exception

Random Treasure: Antiques, Auctions and Alchemy by Roger Stewart
Delightful book about the antiques market experience by a random collector

The Dorak Affair by Kenneth Pearson & Patricia Connor
Over 50 years old and still a useful and interesting read

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus by Ryan Jacobs
Fungus crime, art crime, same same?

Caravaggio’s Cardsharps on Trial by Richard E. Spear
An art historian’s inside reaction to an art court case


Artful codgers: why the art market is a hotbed of grey crime
(4 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)


France Passes a Bill to Return Looted Art to Benin and Senegal Within a Year (Benin, Senegal, France)
(5 November 2020; Observer)

French Senate approves the return of 27 African cultural objects to Benin and Senegal (Benin, Senegal, France)
(8 November 2020; Art Critique)

Billionaire Congolese Art Collector Sindika Dokolo, Who Championed the Restitution of African Art, Has Died at Age 48 (Congo, Angola)
(30 October 2020; ArtNet News)

Egypt recovers part of sarcophagus from Italy (Egypt, Italy)
(5 November 2020; Ahram Online)

The seizure of a person while excavating antiquities at his home (Egypt)
(6 November 2020; al Khaleej Today)

Ethiopia: The fight to repatriate artefacts is far from over (Ethiopia, UK)
(3 November 2020; The Africa Report)

The History of Museums Is More Fraught Than You Might Think (Kenya, USA)
(3 November 2020; 5280)

We Didn’t Loot Ancestral Antiquities ― Ila Orangun Ruling House (Nigeria)
(1 November 2020; Nigerian Tribune)

The Netherlands returns ‘stolen’ Ife terracotta head to Nigerian (Nigeria, Netherlands)
(5 November 2020; Pulse)

Benin Bronzes must be returned to Africa, says curator of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum (Nigeria, UK)
(5 November 2020; The Telegraph)

Here today, gone tomorrow: A brief look at art thefts in South Africa (South Africa)
(3 November 2020; News 24)

Attempted robbery at MuseumAfrica causes flood, raises concern over heritage sector management (South Africa)
(3 November 2020; News 24)

SA Hip Hop museum allegedly trashed after reports of a break-in (South Africa)
(5 November 2020; Briefly)


Guerra del bronce. La red mafiosa detrás del robo de las estatuas porteñas (Bronze War: The mafia network behind the theft of Benos Ares’ statues; Argentina)
(1 November 2020; La Nacion)

U’mista Cultural Centre celebrates 40 years of repatriating stolen objects (Canada)
(2 November 2020; North Island Gazette)

A handmade birch bark canoe returns to a North Sask. family (Canada)
(2 November 2020; The Star Phoenix)

Tesoros que nunca volverán (Treasures that will never return; Mexico)
(1 November 2020; Por Esto)

Ni las iglesias respetan: roban campana en el templo de San Lorenzo de Villalpando (Not even churches respected: Bell stolen in the temple of San Lorenzo in Villalpando; Mexico)
(3 November 2020; Periódico Correo)

El tráfico de bienes culturales, un delito millonario que se ensaña con Perú (Peru)
(1 November 2020; Mundo)

Two Van Gogh fakes in Washington? Strong evidence produced against early drawings at the National Gallery of Art (USA)
(30 October 2020; The Art Newspaper)

The Re-Education of the Museum of Fine Arts (USA)
(2 November 2020; Boston Magazine)

Digging for artifacts on public property is illegal (USA)
(2 November 2020; KNWA)

Treasury Dept Warns of Sanctions to Art World (USA)
(5 November 2020; Art & Object)

45 Valuable Drawings By Marvel Comic Artist John Buscema Have Been Stolen (USA)
(6 November 2020; Observer)

During WWII, a Virginia Beach soldier stole a painting from a French chateau. 74 years later, he returned it. (USA, France)
(2 November 2020; The Virginian Pilot)

Dispute Over Pissarro Painting Looted by Nazis Is Back in Court (United States of Americas, France)
(1 November 2020; New York Times)


Thieves Swipe Nazi Uniforms From a Danish Museum, the Latest in a Bizarre Wave of World War II Memorabilia Robberies (Denmark)
(4 November 2020; ArtNet News)

Stephen Fry calls for Elgin Marbles to be returned to Athens from British Museum (Greece, UK)
(3 November 2020; Evening Express)

Stolen and recovered archaeological finds become museum (Italy)
(4 November 2020; ANSA)

Dutch Jewish family allege bias over refusal to return €20m painting (The Netherlands)
(2 November 2020; The Guardian)

Ancient monument damaged when owner rescues dog from rabbit hole (UK)
(2 November 2020; IOM Today)

Four men charged after action at Port of Dover uncovers stolen antiques and rigged gambling table (UK, Bulgaria)
(2 November 2020; In Your Area)

German art collector, 38, is fighting extradition to UK from Portugal over claims she sold ‘Kusama pumpkin’ for £1.1million but refused to hand it over to the buyer (UK, Germany)
(2 November 2020; The Daily Mail)

Doors closed at historic Fife castle to protect it from anti-social behaviour (UK)
(4 November 2020; Fife Today)

Cupar farmer who denies damaging ancient Angus stone circles to face trial next year (UK)
(4 November 2020; The Courier)

Ammonite theft suspect sentenced on other charges (UK)
(7 November 2020; Lethbridge Herald)


Australia pledges millions towards repatriation of Aboriginal artefacts from overseas collections (Australia)
(3 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

Geoffrey Robertson to push for Gweagal shield’s return in new series (Australia, UK)
(8 November 2020; The Age)

Four-billion-year-old Wolfe Creek meteorite stolen from Queensland museum recovered (Australia)
(9 November 2020; ABC Australia)

Preminghana petroglyph return stalls, despite agreements reached in August (Australia)
(9 November 2020; The Advocate)

Four Toi Moko welcomed back to New Zealand after ‘long, wrong’ journey to Germany (New Zealand, Germany)
(3 November 2020;

South and East Asia

2 held with panchaloha idol, hunt on for prime accused (India)
(3 November 2020; The Times of India)

Recovered idols belong to a temple, say officials (India)
(6 November 2020; The Hindu)

Indonesian Heritage Objects Go Home (Indonesia, Netherlands)
(3 November 2020; Tempo)

Stolen relics (Pakistan, USA)
(5 November 2020; Dawn)

Antiquities recovered in 2015 in NYC given back to Pakistan (Pakistan, USA)
(3 November 2020; The Washington Post)

The explorer who desecrated graves in the name of science (Philippines)
(1 November 2020; Pledge Times)

Filipinas: recuperan un “Santo Niño” 32 años después de haber sido robado (Philippines: Santo Niño recovered 32 years after having been robbed; Philippines)
(2 November 2020; Actualidad)

West and Central Asia

Syrian authorities prevent smuggling of archaeological pieces (Syria)
(4 November 2020; Prensa Latina)

In Other News

Uncorking The Basics Of Wine Insurance (General)
(2 November 2020; Forbes)