Skip to main content

Australian Antiquities Dealer Arrested In Egypt

A 61-year old Australian antiquities dealer "has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle two 2300-year-old animal mummies and religious figurines out of the country" (Selma Milovanovic "Antiques dealer faces 15 years in an Egyptian jail", Sydney Morning Herald December 26, 2008).
According to local reports, when security officials opened the suspect suitcase, they allegedly found mummies of a cat and an ibis, both dating back to 300BC. They also allegedly found 19 figurines of the ancient Egyptian gods of Horus and Thoth, wrapped as gifts.
The individual was due to take a flight to Thailand.

The Herald Sun (Australia) reported (January 1, 2009):
A MELBOURNE man arrested in Egypt after allegedly trying to smuggle animal mummies out of the country has been released on bail. Frank Bottaro, 61, a successful Armadale antiquities dealer, will likely have to stay in the country until he appears in court.
See also:

Comments

Hi David,

I remember
this news article from 2005
about masses of Egyptian antiquities that were smuggled out of the country and sold. A number of them turned up in Australia. Do you know if there is a connection?

Best,
Nathan
David Gill said…
Nathan
The news article you cite seems to hint at this story: Jewel Topsfield, "Priceless tale, or bloody mistake, as Canberra hands back 'valuable artefacts'", The Age (Melbourne, Australia) July 20, 2005.
S said…
Hi all and happy new year!

I think that Nathan talk about this (Ali Abouttam, now in Jail in Sofia?): http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DE0DF173CF930A15751C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=8
Paul Barford said…
I think there is a connection, see Selma Milovanovic 'Egypt could jail Australian dealer for 15 years', Sydney Morning Herald December 26, 2008. There's a photo of Mr Bottaro there.

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.