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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.
Behbeit el-Hagar temple reliefs
In 2004 a piece of temple relief was returned to Egypt from Christie’s New York...
Ninth century CE Arab dhow shipwreck off the coast of Indonesia, commercially salvaged in 1998 and criticized by Western academics after a proposed exhibition of the shipwreck by the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in 2011.
Bijbels Museum theft
Egyptian artefacts stolen from the Bijbels Museum in Amsterdam and returned by Christie’s New York...
Brooklyn Museum and Fake Coptic Art
Brooklyn Museum was considered to have one of the largest and most significant collections of Coptic Art in the world, until serious doubts were raised over the authenticity of many of the pieces.
Cleveland Museum of Art Returns to Italy (2008)
Artefacts returned to Italy in 2008 after Italian investigations into illicit trading.
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.
Pre- and post-Conquest Aymara sacred textiles removed from the village of Coroma in the 1970s and 1980s in violation of Bolivian law.
Stolen South Arabian stela returned to Yemen by Phoenix Ancient Art in 2004...
El Zotz Lintel 1
Classic Maya carved wooden lintel looted from the site of El Zotz, Guatemala, in the late 1960s and repatriated from the collection of the Denver Art Museum in 1998.
Empress Dou Figurines
Figurines stolen from Tomb of Empress Dou returned to China by Sotheby’s in 2003.
Euphronios (Sarpedon) Krater
The Euphronios (Sarpedon) krater is a red-figure calyx krater made in Athens circa 515 BC, signed by Euxitheos as potter and Euphronios as painter. It was bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 for the then record-breaking price of $1 million, and is now thought to have been excavated illegally in Italy in 1971. In 2006, the Metropolitan restored ownership of the krater to Italy.
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.
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.
Gianfranco Becchina is an Italian antiquities dealer who has been convicted in Italy of illegally dealing in antiquities.
Hoi An Shipwreck
In 1997, following the arrest in Vietnam of two Japanese dealers attempting to illegally export antique ceramics, a license was granted by the Vietnamese government to a commercial salvage company to excavate the Hoi An (Cu Lao Cham) shipwreck. The subsequent auction of finds from the wreck was largely unsuccessful.
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.
J Paul Getty Returns to Italy (2013)
The Getty Museum returned a looted terracotta head of Hades to Italy.
Jiri Frel was curator of antiquities at the J.Paul Getty Museum between 1973 and 1984, and was associated with several irregularities regarding museum acquisitions.
John Bourne Collection
Collection of Pre-Conquest metal objects, some of which were purchased in the United States in 1987 and were later identified as being from the site of Sipán, Peru.
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.
La Amelia Stela 1
A classic Maya stela, cut into pieces for transport, which ended up in the collection of Sweden’s National Museum. It was returned to Guatemala in 1994.
Las Bocas-style Figurines
A popular style of Olmec figurine said to be from the Mexican site of Las Bocas that was defined entirely by looted material that appeared on the art market.
Las Limas Monument 1
Well-known Olmec greenstone statue stolen from a Mexican museum and abandoned in a Texas hotel room after traffickers were unable to sell it.
Long Island University Hillwood Museum theft
Egyptian artefacts stolen from Hillwood Museum and sold at Christie’s...
A small bronze statue of Zeus stolen from Rome’s National Museum of Italy in 1980 was sold at Sotheby’s New York on 9 December 2004.
In 2008, a US army helicopter pilot pled guilty to possessing and selling antiquities stolen from an Egyptian storeroom that had been excavated from the site of Ma’adi.
Marcus Aurelius head
Marble head stolen from Algerian museum recovered from Christie’s New York in 2004.
Marion True was Curator of Antiquities at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from 1986 until 2005. She was charged and tried in both Italy and Greece on offences related to antiquities smuggling, but never convicted.
Maya ‘Fresco’ Fake
Antiquities dealer Leonardo Patterson convicted of federal wire fraud for attempting to sell a fake Maya ‘fresco’
Maya antiquities sold at Sotheby’s in 1995
Two pre-Columbian antiquities offered for sale by Sotheby’s New York in 1994, were later found in photographs taken by an admitted artifact looter and smuggler.
Distinctive pottery style from the south western United States; all known Mimbres cultural sites have been looted.
A silver hoard removed from the Sicilian site of Morgantina by looters around in 1979/80 which was eventually purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mosaic Maya Mask
Mosaic stone mask said to have been looted from a Mexican cave and now in the collection of Dumbarton Oaks.
Moundville Archaeological Repository Theft
Organized theft of over 250 archaeologically-excavated artefacts from a repository in Alabama.
In 2010 Christie’s New York returned a pair of Neo-Assyrian gold earrings to Iraq.
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.
Peru v. Johnson
A civil suit filed against collector Benjamin Johnson in a US Court was ruled in favor of the defendant as the government of Peru could not prove that they were the legal owner of the objects in question.
Peruvian Antiquities Seized at Dulles Airport (1981)
Dealer pleaded guilty to falsely declaring the value of freshly-looted Peruvian antiquities that he attempted to bring into the US...
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.
Río Azul Mask
A Classic Maya funerary mask apparently looted from the Guatemalan site of Río Azul and illicitly trafficked into the United States and then Europe.
Río Azul Vase
A Classic Maya vase now in the Detroit Institute of Arts that is thought, based on linguistic evidence, to have been looted from Tomb 12 at the Guatemalan site of Río Azul in the late 1970s.
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.
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.
Saqqara Royal Duck Vessels
Two stolen alabaster duck vessels returned to Egypt in 2008, one from Christie’s...
In 1993 a large, unprovenanced silver ‘treasure’ of Roman date was subject to a court battle over ownership in New York.
Sipán Jewellery Offered for Sale at Sotheby’s (1994)
Several Peruvian antiquities offered for sale at Sotheby’s Auction House in 1994 that were seized by US Customs under suspicion of having been looted from Sipán.
A Mississippi site in Kentucky where around 650 graves were looted over the course of two months in 1987.
South California Museum Raids (2008)
In January 2008, US federal agents raided the premises of two antiquities dealerships and four art museums in California on suspicion of dealing in and acquiring illegally-exported archaeological artefacts, and enabling a conspiracy to prepare false tax returns.
Stele of Adad-nerari III
Syrian stele offered for sale in Christie’s and Bonhams...
Swetnam, Drew, Kelly Smuggling Ring of Objects from Sipán
The following is one particularly well documented incidence of the trafficking of artefacts from Sipan.
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.
Indian antiquities dealer accused of selling stolen antiquities through Sotheby’s.
Vibia Sabina Statue
A 2nd century Roman statue looted from Italy, acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1979, and returned to Italy in 2006.
Wang Chuzhi Tomb Panel
Marble relief panel stolen from Chinese tomb in 1994 recovered from Christie’s New York in 2001.
A Roman sculpture: the bottom half was archaeologically excavated at the Turkish site of Perge and the top half was looted and eventually placed on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.
The ancient site of Zeugma in Turkey, now partially inundated by a dam, has experienced extensive looting, particuarly for its fine mosaics.