Friday, June 5, 2009

Looted Tiles Returned to Iran

At the end of last week it was reported in the Iranian press that "dozens of historic decorative tiles" that had been looted from Iran had been handed to officials at the Iranian Embassy in London ("Smuggled tiles to be returned to Iran", May 30, 2009). The tiles had been removed ("ripped") from the tomb of Sultan Shihab al-Din Sultan Ahmad at Dyla in northern Iran.

Seyyed Ali Mousavi, the legal adviser at the Iranian embassy in London, is quoted:
The tiles are about 600 years old. They were stolen from the tomb of Sultan Shihab al-Din Sultan Ahmad and were smuggled out of the country ... They were taken to London from Dubai to be sold in an auction ... Interpol in London confiscated the tiles after Iran presented the related documents that indicated that they belonged to Iran.
There is also a statement from the UK's Metropolitan Police("Tiles from Sultan's tomb returned to Iran", May 29, 2009):

They [sc. the tiles] were sent for auction at Bonham's Auction House, New Bond Street however experts became suspicious of their origins and alerted the Art & Antiques Unit.

The unit conducted a thorough investigation in co-operation with the Cultural Property Unit in Iran. Photographs of the tiles in situ together with photographs taken following the theft helped to positively identify them.

A collector who bought the tiles in "good faith" from a dealer in Dubai has assisted the police and has released his title claim on the objects.

There is also a comment from DS Vernon Rapley the investigating officer:

It is very satisfying to know that these valuable cultural objects will once again be displayed within the tomb from which they were so callously taken.

We are very grateful for the close co-operation of the Iranian Embassy in London and the Cultural officials who assisted our investigation in Tehran.

The diary in The Independent (June 5, 2009) also notes the tiles:
police gave back to the Iranian government hundreds of tiles, which had been removed from the ancient tomb of of Sultan Shihab al-Din Sultan Ahmad in Northern Iran, and had appeared at Bonham's auction house in London. Auctioneers had become suspicious of their provenance and handed them back.
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1 comment:

Doctor Science said...

Hi! I came here via google. In your learned opinion, is it unfair of me to say the blue tile Mihrab in the Met was "looted" from Isfahan, or is that exactly what happened? It would have been before 1939, and I can't find any mention online of how exactly it got from Isfahan to New York.

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