This Encyclopedia constitutes a preliminary source of case studies that reveal aspects of the transnational illicit trade in cultural objects.
Each entry synthesizes information taken from what are considered to be reliable sources, and presents a bibliography of primary publications to facilitate further research. We endeavour to prepare texts that are factually accurate and objective accounts, and the texts are not indicative of an author’s personal opinion.
The Encyclopedia is a work in progress, and new entries will be added (and current entries updated as appropriate) as time permits. The authors endeavour to attribute any images that are used, but we should be contacted by the owners of unattributed images.
The Fano Bronze is a bronze statue currently owned by the J. Paul Getty Museum (Victorious Youth, 77.AB.30) but subject to an Italian claim for repatriation.
G’psgolox Totem Pole
A First Nations totem pole which was removed from Canada under controversial circumstances and eventually repatriated from Sweden. It is the first Canadian totem pole repatriated from Europe. The Haisla are a Canadian Indigenous group based out of the Kitimaat area of the North Coast of British Columbia with an approximate membership of 1500 people (Haisla First Nation n.d.). The modern Haisla...
Second century Roman piece looted from Turkey and returned in a deal that included a tax write off for the buyer.
A Hopewell burial mound located on private property in Indiana that was illegally looted by road construction workers in 1988 and 1989.
The Getty Aphrodite is a large (about 2.3 m tall) limestone and marble statue of a female deity, probably Aphrodite, Hera or Demeter, dating from 425–400 BC. It was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1988 and returned to Italy in 2007.
The Getty kouros (youth) is a 2 m high marble statue owned by the J. Paul Getty Museum (85.AA.40), appearing to date from sixth-century Greece, though believed by many authorities to be a modern forgery.
Giacomo Medici is an Italian antiquities dealer who was convicted in 2005 of receiving stolen goods, illegal export of goods, and conspiracy to traffic.
Gianfranco Becchina is an Italian antiquities dealer who has been convicted in Italy of illegally dealing in antiquities.
Golden Horns of Gallehus
The original Golden Horns of Gallehus, unique Bronze Age artefacts, were stolen and melted down in 1802, causing national uproar in Denmark and even inspiring a famous poem. In 2007, the replicas of the originals were also stolen.
A Maya codex of questionable authenticity that appeared on the market in 1971.
A huaquero is a person who clandestinely excavates at archaeological sites for the purpose of obtaining marketable antiquities; a looter.
J Paul Getty Museum Returns to Italy (1999)
On 5 February 1999, the J. Paul Getty Museum returned three artifacts to Italy after being informed that they had been stolen or illegally excavated.
J Paul Getty Museum Returns to Italy (2005)
The J. Paul Getty Museum returned three objects to Italy in 2005 that were stolen or illegally exported.
J Paul Getty Museum Returns to Italy (2007)
Artefacts returned to Italy in 2007 after Italian investigations into illicit trading.