Those dealers in ancient art with whom I am personally familiar, Malter Galleries for example, go to considerable trouble to ensure that they are not involved in acquisition of anything likely to have recently been excavated (as I do in acquiring coins).Barford discusses the background to the story.
I have done a little more research and found some additional information. The Malter case can be traced back to 1997 ("Antique dealer admits to scheme that smuggled antiquities from Turkey", AP February 25, 2000). It appears that one of the people in the "smuggling scheme" was "a reserve U.S. Air Force major stationed at Incirlik Air Force Base". In the subsequent case, "Joel Malter, 68, of Malter Galleries in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge".
There is more (Ron Jenkins, "Customs recover antiquities in Oklahoma", AP, February 25, 2000). This recorded that an employee at the Incirlik base, Sezai Portakalci, had been arrested on June 1, 1998 "after a shipment of ancient Greek, Roman and Persian coins was delivered to the [US] customs agent." Jenkins continued:
The Oklahoma City customs agent met with Malter on June 19, 1998, and investigators said Malter agreed to purchase stolen and smuggled antiquities for $8,000 and inquired about possibly obtaining future artifacts.Further details were released ("Turkey Reclaims Looted Artifacts", AP March 1, 2000). Apparently 133 antiquities were returned.
Items on display at the State Department ceremony included bronze bracelets and lamps, a terra cotta bird image, a Byzantine cross and a small green glass flask. The collection also contained Greek, Roman, Hittite, Byzantine, Phoenician and Assyrian antiquities.We should be grateful to Welsh for reminding us of this case and drawing attention to the route by which antiquities left Turkey.