Culture crime news 9–17 November 2020


Hot this week: 50 years of the UNESCO Convention

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Fifty years on, Unesco’s convention against illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts still shines bright
(13 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

UNESCO’s role in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property
(14 November 2020; My Republica)

Unesco, stop citing ‘bogus’ $10bn figure, art trade pleads
(12 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

Unesco under fire for using Met objects in anti-trafficking campaign
(13 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

The devil is in the paperwork—don’t be caught out by provenance fraud (USA)
(11 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)


Egypt: Anger at loan of Islamic artefacts to Saudi Arabia for two years (Egypt, Saudi Arabia)
(15 November 2020; Middle East Eye)

The battle get our art back (General)
(13 November 2020; The Southern Times Africa)

West Africa: Inside the Illicit Trade in West Africa’s Oldest Artworks (Nigera, Germany)
(11 November 2020; All Africa)

“Holding on to stolen African objects, hiding them away, is plain wrong” (Nigeria, UK)
(17 November 2020; The Sunday Post)

Nigeria expects more Benin Bronze returns as soon as next year (Nigeria, UK)
(12 November 2020; Reuters)

New museum in Nigeria raises hopes of resolution to Benin bronzes dispute (Nigeria, UK)
(14 November 2020; The Guardian)

Stolen Pierneef painting: Magashule’s ex-guard wanted to make quick millions, State charges (South Africa)
(9 November 2020; News 24)


Stealing an Entire Dinosaur — Thieves Loot Brazil’s Precious Fossils (Brazil)
(10 November 2020; Insight Crime)

Artist devastated by theft of prized painting from Edmonton arts co-operative (Canada)
(14 November 2020; CBC)

Government Moving To Retrieve Taino Artefacts From UK (Jamaica, UK)
(9 November 2020; The Gleaner)

Jamaican Government Looks to Retrieve Artefacts from British Museum (Jamaica, UK)
(10 November 2020; Caribbean National Weekly)

Holy Happy Ending, Batman (USA)
(9 November 2020; Antique Trader)

Sotheby’s Sued by New York State AG for Tax Fraud (USA)
(9 November 2020; ArtForum)

Theft of expensive art remains mystery 10 years later (USA)
(9 November 2020; Mansfield News Journal)

Minneapolis art museum criticised for keeping ancient Indigenous objects (USA)
(9 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

The Fossils That Get Away (From Scientists) (USA)
(13 November 2020; Atlas Obscura)

Bigfoot missing: Sheriff’s office reports statues stolen from museum (USA)
(12 November 2020; KTVU Fox 2)

Stolen Bigfoot statue found in California, returned to museum (USA)
(13 November 2020; New York Post)

A family feud, a mystery firm and the Botticelli masterpiece that quietly vanished (USA, Italy)
(15 November 2020; The Guardian)

$10 M. Botticelli Painting Reportedly Disappears Amid Legal Dispute (USA, Italy)
(16 November 2020; ARTnews)


Growing rate of theft of Nazi objects across Europe (Denmark, Netherlands)
(9 November 2020; DW)

Thieves Grab Nazi Memorabilia in Museum Heists, Puzzling Police (Denmark, Netherlands)
(13 November 2020; The New York Times)

Is Saving Art Worth Lives? (General)
(9 November 2020; Jewish Journal)

Samsung partners with art crime expert to hunt for world’s missing masterpieces (General)
(12 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

Being stolen is ‘best thing that could happen’ for artwork’s prestige, says expert (General)
(13 November 2020; EuroNews)

MEPs Call on Boris Johnson to Return Parthenon Marbles to Greece (Greece, UK)
(11 November 2020; Greek Reporter)

Elgin Marbles: MEPs from 12 EU countries call on Boris Johnson to return Parthenon artefacts to Greece (Greece, UK)
(11 November 2020; INews)

Hackers target oldest bible and Vatican’s other priceless treasures in online attacks (Holy See)
(9 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)

How Rose Dugdale Went From British Debutante to I.R.A. ‘Freedom Fighter’ (Ireland, UK)
(11 November 2020; The New York Times)

Inside Rome’s Secure Vault for Stolen Art (Italy)
(10 November 2020; Atlas Obscura)

Dutch Are Taking Giant Steps Towards Restitution Of Looted Artefacts (Netherlands, Ghana)
(16 November 2020; Modern Ghana)

Art Forger Han van Meegeren Fooled the World Into Believing His Fake Vermeers. A New Film Unpacks His Bag of Tricks (Netherlands)
(10 November 2020; ArtNet News)

Film Review: The Last Vermeer (Netherlands)
(10 November 2020; San Diego Jewish World)

Books worth EUR 3.3 mln stolen by Romanian Mission: Impossible gang in London return to rightful owners (Romania, UK)
(10 November 2020; Romania Insider)

Stolen books worth £2.5 million returned to rightful owners (Romania, UK)
(11 November 2020; SW Londoner)

Looted artifacts on show in Russia highlight research (Russia, Germany)
(11 November 2020; My Joy Online)

The war on stolen artefacts (Switzerland)
(12 November 2020; Swiss Info)

Switzerland returns stolen artefacts to Italy (Switzerland, Italy)
(12 November 2020; Swiss Info)

Alan Turing: Stolen items to be returned to UK from US after decades (UK, USA)
(9 November 2020; BBC News)

Controversial tunnel under Stonehenge approved over archaeologists’ objections (UK)
(13 November 2020; National Geographic)

Stik: Stolen prints returned to artist following appeal (UK)
(16 November 2020; BBC News)

A Hedge-Fund Manager Whose Company Sold a Fake Frans Hals at Auction Is Appealing a Court Order to Return $6 Million to Sotheby’s (UK, USA)
(16 November 2020; ArtNet News)

Seller contests having to repay Sotheby’s for allegedly forged Frans Hals (UK, USA)
(16 November 2020; The Art Newspaper)


Tribute work to New Zealand’s most famous artist sold in London as original (New Zealand, Europe)
(13 November 2020; The Guardian)

South and East Asia

Cultural relics repatriated by U.S. find home in east China city (China, USA)
(17 November 2020; CGTN)

Bronze idol stolen from temple (India)
(12 November 2020; The Times of India)

Sitharaman Hands Over Confiscated Antiquities/Coins To Patel (India)
(12 November 2020; Travel Trends Today)

The Day Britain Returned Royal Treasures Stolen From Burma’s Palace (Myanmar, UK)
(11 November 2020; The Irrawaddy)

West and Central Asia

Google Arts & Culture as an Agent of Ethnic Cleansing (Armenia, Azerbaijan)
(13 November 2020; Hyperallergic)

Three arrested, suspected of stealing antiquities from Tel Megiddo (Israel)
(9 November 2020; The Jerusalem Post)

Pandemic harms efforts to rein in antiquities theft (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt)
(9 November 2020; France 24)

In Other News

Soccer-ball sized meteorite thought to be more than four BILLION years old is returned to its rightful owners five years after being snatched from a ‘crystal cave’ (Australia)
(9 November 2020; Daily Mail)

WWII plane wreckage newly discovered on Broome battlefield feared stolen (Australia)
(14 November 2020; ABC Australia)

Wildlife crime in Scotland almost doubled in the last year (UK)
(14 November 2020; The National)

Trial date set for man charged with ammonite theft (UK)
(16 November 2020; Lethbridge Herald)