LA Art Dealer Imprisoned for Smuggling Operations

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Bowers Museum

An ancient art dealer who operated the now defunct Silk Roads Gallery in Los Angeles was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for smuggling antiquities and committing tax fraud. The dealer, Jonathan Markell, has been charged with forging documents and object histories that allowed him to illegally import antiquities from Southeast Asia. Markell sold the artifacts to collectors, who donated them to museums to receive tax write-offs. The arrest and imprisonment of Markell ends an investigation that gained attention in 2008 with the raiding of 13 museums in Southern California that possessed artifacts connected to the dealer’s smuggling operations.

To learn more about this case, read the full story here.

To see how museums can take measures to avoid collecting art with questionable provenance, check out ICOM’s website and SAFE’s resources on Cambodian cultural heritage.

Photo: The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana – One of 13 museums raided in 2008 for possessing artifacts illegally imported by Jonathan Markell / CAHairyBear

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