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Looted Antiquities


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Fake Mesopotamian antiquities seized at Heathrow airport with help of Border Force officers and the British Museum

05 May 2020

A group of Mesopotamian antiquities destined for collectors in the UK was discovered to be fake and seized in an operation by Border Force and the British Museum.

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British Museum unveils antiquities database but dealers raise concerns

20 April 2020

A project led by the British Museum (BM) to combat the trade in looted antiquities from Egypt and Sudan has launched an online database where objects with ‘provenance issues’ can be brought to the attention of museum specialists and academics.

Parthenon marbles in the British Museum

Institute of Art and Law to update guidance on restitution cases

19 March 2020

Arts Council England has appointed the Institute of Art and Law to help form new guidance for institutions around the thorny issues of restitution and repatriation of cultural objects.

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Cultural heritage trafficking is in decline, says dealer association report

10 February 2020

The reported trafficking of cultural heritage objects is small and in decline, according to analysis by the IADAA (International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art).

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Items seized after Interpol ‘checks’ at BRAFA

03 February 2020

A group of objects belonging to dealers who took part in the BRAFA art fair in Brussels were seized following an investigation by Interpol.

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Stolen Afghan sculpture to return home after being spotted at UK auction

21 January 2020

An Afghan limestone sculpture believed to have been stolen during the Afghan civil war (1992-94), when Kabul was besieged, surfaced at an auction house in the UK last year.

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2020 vision

23 December 2019

For better or worse, Brexit is finally set to proceed and will be a major factor in the year ahead – as will timed auctions, anti-money laundering rules, the looming prospect of a near-total ivory trade ban, antiquities challenges and a new buying ethos based on cultural sensitivities, changes at major fairs and a growing ‘green’ movement.

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The changing face of antiquities

23 December 2019

Given the growing number of claims made by national governments and heritage authorities when it comes to the antiquities sector, 2020 looks set to be another year of further controversies. Here, lawyer Fred Clark, an associate in Boodle Hatfield LLP’s art team, surveys the legal landscape of the ancient art market and looks ahead to what may well become a more regulated world.

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Antiquities stolen from Afghanistan returned with help of British Museum and Met police’s Art and Antiques Unit

12 November 2019

Sculptures of Buddha dating from the 4th-6th centuries smuggled out of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago have finally been returned to the country’s national museum.

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Egypt threat of legal action adds to ‘politicisation’ of antiquities

15 July 2019

The Antiquities Dealers’ Association (ADA) has said dealers and auctioneers should stand up to “the politicisation of the antiquities trade” in the wake of a row surrounding the sale of a £4m sculpture.

Tutankhamun head at Christie's

Christie’s counters Egypt’s threat to sue over £4m sale of Tutankhamun head

09 July 2019

Christie’s has reiterated that it “carried out extensive due diligence” into a head of Tutankhamun after the Egyptian National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) said that it will instruct a UK law firm to file a lawsuit over its £4m sale.

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EU cultural goods bill is ‘blow’ to market – but full impact may not be felt until 2025

29 April 2019

The art and antiques trade has described the introduction of new controls on the import of cultural goods as a “considerable blow” to the market.

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Christie’s voluntarily returns group of eight looted antiquities to Italy

15 February 2019

A group of eight antiquities that was consigned to Christie’s has been returned to Italy after the works were identified as not having the necessary export and provenance details to be sold.

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Legal landmarks: high-profile cases and incoming legislation to watch out for in 2019

21 December 2018

The arrival of the ivory ban in late 2019 is not the only piece of imminent legislation that the antiques trade should be aware of. The efforts of global art and antiques trade body CINOA are currently focused on two broad issues: anti-money-laundering legislation and laws surrounding the import of cultural goods.

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Rare Summer Palace bronze found in British seaside bungalow returns to China

11 December 2018

An exceptionally rare Western Zhou bronze, taken when the Summer Palace was sacked by British troops in 1860, has been returned to China.

Three culture bill proposals to be debated in November

01 October 2018

Three proposals for a European Union law on the import of cultural goods have been tabled for ‘trilogue’ talks in November.

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Ancient antiquities seized from dealer returned to Iraq after British Museum research

10 August 2018

Eight Sumerian antiquities seized by the Metropolitan Police from a London dealer in 2003 are to be returned to Iraq after identification by the British Museum.

Egyptian National Library and Archives in Cairo

Egypt recovers Islamic manuscript spotted in Bonhams auction

09 August 2018

A rare Islamic manuscript consigned to a Bonhams auction in London has been returned to Egypt in the latest example of Egyptian authorities succeeding in retrieving artefacts from abroad.

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Dealer held after Met ‘looted art’ operation

09 July 2018

A coin and antiquities dealer has been arrested as part of an international investigation into a £35m crime network dealing in looted artefacts.

Antiquity

Coin dealer arrested in London following international looted antiquities investigation

06 July 2018

A coin and antiquities dealer has been arrested as part of an international investigation into a £35m crime network dealing in looted artefacts.