Case Studies

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.

corinth1

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.

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Placeres Stucco Temple Facade

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

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.

Yajaw Te' K'inich ruler of Mutul de San Jose on a vase from the November Collection, MFA 1988.1177

November Collection of Maya Pottery

A spectacular collection of Classic Maya pottery thought to have been systematically looted from Guatemalan sites throughout the 1980s now in the possession of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Ubina coin from Postimees.ee news article

Ubina Hoard

Discovery of Viking-age silver, looted from a site in northern Estonia, in a German auction house, and their subsequent return, led to the first ever instance of a successful prosecution against looting and trafficking of cultural objects in Estonia.