Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Roman Sarcophagus Seized

source: ICE
It is being reported that a Roman sarcophagus has been seized in a store in Queens (Tom Mashberg, "Authorities to Seize a Roman Statue in Queens That They Say Was Stolen", New York Times February 27, 2014; ICE Press release). The sarcophagus was valued at $4 million and was due to be put on display by Phoenix Ancient Art. It appears that it was identified from the photographic archive seized from Gianfranco Becchina.

Mashberg quotes the lawyer for Phoenix Ancient Art:
Henry J. Bergman, a lawyer for Phoenix, said the gallery did not own the statue and had “only exhibited it on behalf of a client,” whom he declined to identify “on grounds of confidentiality.” Mr. Bergman said Phoenix had not played a role in shipping, importing or storing the item.
Who is the anonymous owner?

It appears that the sarcophagus was moved by Becchina to his gallery in Switzerland in 1981 and then displayed at an unnamed Swiss museum between late 1982 and 1983.

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