Argentina and Spain Return Thousands of Artifacts to Peru and Ecuador

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Moche Earrings

Over 4,000 cultural heritage items have been returned to Peru this week after having been seized from traffickers and art collectors almost 16 years ago, in Buenos Aires. The artifacts include pre-Columbian items, metals, textiles, wood, ceramics and bone, and constitute the largest amount of cultural artifacts to be returned to date. Argentina and Spain are also returning over 500 artifacts to Ecuador, adding to … Read More

Illegally Looted Roman and Etruscan Antiquities Found in Geneva

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Pompeii House

Italy’s Carabinieri art crime investigation unit recently discovered forty-five crates containing Etruscan and Roman antiquities in Geneva, Switzerland. Experts speculate that these pieces were left in Switzerland for fifteen years by Robin Symes, a dealer who has served time for contempt of court. When artifacts are improperly removed from their source, cultural and historical context is lost. Pompeii, an archaeological site famous … Read More

Abbasid Wooden Beams Recovered from London Auction House

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Abbasid Caliphs Egypt

Eight wooden beams stolen from the Dome of the Abbasid Caliphs are now in the process of being repatriated to Egypt. The Dome of the Abbasid Caliphs dates to the 7th and 8th centuries. The well-preserved mausoleum is located near the famed Al-Sayeda Nafissa shrine in downtown Cairo. The beams, inscribed with verses from the Quran, had been illegally trafficked to … Read More

Chinese Historical Tomb Site Raided by Gang

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Neolithic Ritual Object Zhulong

A Chinese tomb raider and gang were recently jailed for looting antiquities. This incident was the largest destruction since 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was established by Mao Zedong. The head gang leader became an expert at locating ancient tombs by studying the landscape and using knowledge of astronomy, mountain shapes, and maps. He and four other members … Read More

2015: A Year of Art Crime

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Throughout 2015, art crime found it way to the headlines. These crimes took on many forms and shocked the world in their motivation and execution. With advancing technology, criminals have improved techniques in forgery and stealing art hoping to profit from their fakes and black market sales. The world saw ISIS’s destruction and “industrial-scale” looting of cultural heritage in Palmyra and … Read More

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 … Read More

Help SAFE #HonorNepal

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SAFE’s campaign of protecting cultural heritage extends to a global perspective. In the right context, the world’s past is the world’s future and protecting Nepal’s past means saving history that is our own. Having one of the highest concentrations of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world, Nepal is a nation who’s cultural legacy affects us all. The devastating earthquake this … Read More

Syria Antiquities Chief Says Turkey Refuses to Return Looted Antiquities

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Bust of a Woman from Palmyra on display in the Vatican Museum

Syria’s Antiquities Chief Maamoun Abdulkarim accuses Turkey of refusing to return seized antiquities looted in Syria. Abdulkarim claims that the artifacts amount to a total of 2,000 objects illegally excavated from sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra and the older site of Mari. The two countries have opposed each other since the civil war in Syria started in … Read More

Antiquities Dealer Facing Charges of Looted and Forged Artifacts

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Olmec, El Manati, Wooden Busts

Over the past 40 years, antiquities dealer, Leonardo A. Patterson, has amassed a large private collection of pre-Columbian art. Known as the Patterson Collection, it includes 1,029 Aztec, Mayan, and Olmec artifacts. Despite years of claiming that all of his pieces are genuine and legally acquired, Patterson is now facing simultaneous charges of possessing looted artifacts and selling fakes. The … Read More

How can we think about cultural heritage when life is lost?

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Before and after photos leave nothing to the imagination: Nepal has suffered a tremendous loss to its cultural heritage when a massive earthquake hit the small Himalayan nation on April 25, 2015. Should we be concerned about culture when the death toll is still mounting every minute? We know countless people have suffered the devastation of losing family members and loved ones. When … Read More