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The Cultural Front

Italy seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record haul

Italy seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record haul

    22 January 2015 AFP   The Italian government said police had seized more than 5,000 ancient artefacts in a record 45-million-euro haul after dismantling a Swiss-Italian trafficking ring. Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said it was the country’s “largest discovery yet” of looted works and consisted of 5,361 pieces, including vases, jewellery, frescoes and [...]

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Despite detente, search for art looted in Cuba could take years

Despite detente, search for art looted in Cuba could take years

  Alistair Bell Reuters 7 January 2015   When Gil Marmol and his family fled Cuba in 1961 the revolutionary government seized 17 paintings that they left behind, including two watercolors by Mexico’s Diego Rivera. Years later, he discovered that one of the works was smuggled abroad and then sold at auction in New York [...]

Court to Rule on Turkish Dealer’s Collection of Looted Artifacts

Court to Rule on Turkish Dealer’s Collection of Looted Artifacts

MUNICH, Germany (Cyprus Mail)—A German court is set to issue a final decision on the fate of 85 artifacts stolen from Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, including fragments of painted church walls, an Armenian gospel manuscript, and some 40 prehistoric antiques, the Cyprus Mail reports. The Court of Appeal of Munich is expected to issue [...]

Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts

Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts

James Cuno November/December 2014 Foreign Affairs   In December 2007, the Italian government opened an exhibition in Rome of 69 artifacts that four major U.S. museums had agreed to return to Italy on the grounds that they had been illegally excavated and exported from the country. Leading nearly 200 journalists through the exhibition, Francesco Rutelli, [...]

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Cambodian sculptures looted in the 1970s may be returned

Cambodian sculptures looted in the 1970s may be returned

A set of statues taken from ancient temples in Cambodia dating to the 900s A.D. have been identified as looted property. Some links to recent news articles from the New York Times and LA Times.     http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/arts/design/ancient-cambodian-statue-is-seized-from-sothebys.html   http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-metropolitan-museum-returns-cambodian-statues-20130503,0,7528448.story   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/arts/design/cambodia-to-ask-met-to-return-10th-century-statues.html     While the details are murky, it appears the stone statues disappeared from [...]

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On the Politics and Culture of Organized Theft

On the Politics and Culture of Organized Theft

Art is property that is unlike any other. While it is moveable property and has monetary value, it cannot be rebuilt. Its value lies in the unique skill of its creator but also in how it is embedded in culture and identity. Historically significant buildings may have a similar function but building can be and [...]

Posted in: The Cultural Front