Case Studies


Sevso Treasure

In 1993 a large, unprovenanced silver ‘treasure’ of Roman date was subject to a court battle over ownership in New York.



The Uigwe are several thousand historic Korean books which were removed from Korea by the French and then the Japanese during times of occupation and have been subject to successful return requests.

Winter Palace

State Hermitage Museum Thefts 2006

In July 2006, the audit of one of the many collection inventories of the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, revealed that over 200 objects had been stolen, with an estimated total value of 130 million rubles ($5 million USD or £2.76 million GBP).


Pangboche Hand

The Pangboche Hand is an alleged Yeti hand, stolen from a Nepali monastery. A finger was stolen in 1958 and smuggled by actor James Stewart and the complete hand was stolen in the early 1990s.

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Derrynaflan Hoard

One of the most spectacular hoard discoveries in Ireland, which led first to an increase in enthusiasm for metal detecting as a hobby, but ultimately contributed to the prohibition of unlicensed searching for archaeological material.


Kumluca Silver

The Kumluca Silver is a collection of more than forty sixth-century AD Byzantine silver artefacts, thought to have been found close to the small town of Kumluca in southern Turkey, and bought by Dumbarton Oaks in 1963.


Salisbury Hoard

When a London antiquities dealer offered the British Museum rare Iron Age bronze miniature shields, it triggered the tracing of the origins of a unique and archaeologically significant, but illegally looted, hoard.

Aidonia 4 Anemon

Aidonia Treasure

The Aidonia Treasure is a collection of Mycenaean gold and jewelry returned to Greece in 1996 and thought to have been robbed from a cemetery at Aidonia in the late 1970s.

Toledo kalpis

Toledo Museum of Art Return to Italy (2013)

In January 2013 the Toledo Museum of Art  returned a piece that was discovered to have been smuggled out of Italy.

Olmec, El Manati, Wooden Busts

El Manatí Wooden Olmec Busts

A collection of small Olmec figural carvings found in a single archaeological context. Busts of this style have been seen on the art market and have been seized from the collection of dealer Leonardo Patterson. Some questions have been raised around issues of authenticity.