Skip to main content

Egyptian sarcophagus returned


Last month I commented on the Egyptian sarcophagus detained at Miami. Earlier this week the sarcophagus was handed over to the Egyptian  authorities at the National Geographic Society [press release]. Zahi Hawass was present at the event: "A piece of our history that left Egypt under mysterious circumstances has found its way home with the help of our partners in the U.S. government".

It appears that the sarcophagus was imported with incomplete paperwork.
The coffin was intercepted by CBP at Miami International Airport in 2008 and initially scrutinized for agricultural concerns. An agriculture specialist, concerned that the coffin would require a permit, referred it to the Trade Enforcement Team and ICE. CBP and ICE contacted the importer to establish whether the coffin had been exported legally from Egypt. ICE tracked the sale of the sarcophagus to a U.S. citizen, who was neither an art dealer nor broker. He claimed to have sold it already to a Canadian. Neither the importer nor the Spanish Gallery that exported it could establish its legal export from Egypt or when or how it would have left Egypt. Given the absence of a credible provenance, the item was determined to be owned by Egypt through its Cultural Patrimony Laws. The item was seized as imported stolen property. ICE worked through its attaché offices in Egypt and Spain to provide the information that led to the forfeiture of the property.
An additional press release adds:
Suspicions were confirmed when Felix Cervera, a Spanish gallery owner who had shipped the sarcophagus into the U.S., could not provide proper provenance (documentation showing ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature).
I also observe that since the news broke the membership list of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) has been updated. There are no longer any members in Spain.


Image
© ICE


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

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.

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.