Case Studies


Egyptian objects sold at Bonhams and Christie’s London in 2013

Material stolen from Egypt and sold through Christie’s and Bonhams in London.


Cerro El Plomo Child

The first high-altitude frozen mummy found in Chile. It was located and then hidden by looters who eventually sold it to the government.


Incirlik smuggling network, Turkey (1998)

In 1997, a smuggling ring based in Incirlik Air Base supplying Turkish artefacts to the United States was broken up.

San Andres de Machaca Paintings

San Andrés de Machaca Church Looting

This remote Bolivian church has been robbed on several occasions; two paintings stolen from it were recovered in London in 2011.


Corinth Museum Theft 1990

In 1990 thieves stole more than 270 artifacts from the museum of the Corinth excavations in Greece. Several pieces were recovered from Christie’s New York in the late 1990s, while most of the remainder were discovered in Miami in 1999.

A figurine from the Cara Sucia region that is in the National Museum of El Salvador

Cara Sucia

Cara Sucia is a Salvadoran archaeological site which experienced several major episodes of looting. These inspired the United States to enter into both its first UNESCO Convention-based emergency import restrictions and its first UNESCO Convention-based cultural property bilateral agreement.

Sevso treasure return to Hungary

Hungarian claim on the Sevso Treasure

The strongest claim to ownership of the collection of Late Roman silver known as the Sevso Treasure has been maintained by Hungary.

Motunui panels

Motunui Panels

Five elaborately carved panels that were smuggled, sold, (almost) used to pay a kidnapping ransom, subject to a landmark court case, and were returned to New Zealand in 2014.

Pilling Collection figurines

Pilling Collection of Fremont Culture Figurines

A Fremont Culture figurine stolen from the collection of a Utah museum and anonymously returned nearly four decades later.


Placeres Stucco Temple Facade

A large Maya temple decoration that was located in 1968, a rare example of photographic documentation of the looting process.