Tracking Illicit Antiquities

In this section we present in brief the stories of the numerous illicit antiquities identified from images in confiscated archives of convicted dealers. These images, as well as additional criminological evidence (where available) were used for the repatriation of the depicted antiquities to their countries of origin, mainly Italy and Greece, during the last decade. We also present the ongoing cases of antiquities depicted in the confiscated archives and identified by Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis in auction houses, museums, private collections and galleries.

This information is the result of the work of forensic archaeologists Dr. Daniela Rizzo and Maurizio Pellegrini from 1995 to 2007 for the Italian state and, independently from 2006 to 2011 and of Dr. Tsirogiannis, first for the Greek state, then for his Cambridge PhD research on the international illicit antiquities network, and now for the Trafficking Culture project.

This evidence is offered here to assist researchers and to provide material for educational purposes. Newly added cases will be at the top.



Fourth-century BC sculptural group of two griffins attacking a fallen doe

Looters discovered this sculptural group, in pieces, in a tomb near Ascoli Satriano, in Foggia and sold it to dealer Giacomo Medici, who sold it to dealers Robin Symes and Christos Michaelides, who sold it to collector Maurice Tempelsman, who later sold it to the Getty Museum using Robin Symes as an agent.

Returned to Italy (2007)

Peucetian stamnos

In 2011 Christie’s New York sold a Peucetian stamnos that had already been identified in the seized photo archive of convicted illicit antiquities dealer Gianfranco Becchina. On 26 May 2015, the stamnos was repatriated to Italy.

Returned to Italy (2015)

Two Canosan Volute Kraters

In June 2012 Christie’s New York offered for sale two vessels identified as illicit antiquities in the seized photo archive of convicted antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici. In September 2012, they were repatriated to Italy.

Returned to Italy (2012)