AC In the News: European Police Raids Lead to the Arrest of 23 Suspects and Recovery of Over 10,000 Stolen Artifacts

Stolen archaeological artifacts recovered by the Italian Carabinieri. Courtesy of Europol.
Stolen archaeological artifacts recovered by
the Italian Carabinieri. Courtesy of Europol.

A raid that spanned over 80 locations across four European countries has resulted in the recovery of over 10,000 artifacts and arrest of 23 individuals connected to their original theft.

The effort, led by the Italian Carabinieri’s Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, was supported by the EU’s judicial and police agencies. The ongoing investigation began in 2017 when Italian police were investigating several thefts from archeological sites in Calabria, Italy. The items stolen were transferred abroad to be put up for auction and sold.

Antiquities Coalition Executive Director, Tess Davis, spoke with Artnet regarding the arrests and what this means for the fight against the trade of illicit artifacts.

Davis explained that this raid shows that cultural racketeering is not limited to countries with conflict areas and can happen anywhere.

“It should also serve as a reminder that when it comes to ancient art, buyer beware,” Davis says. “These 10,000 objects were destined for the art market, where they would have been sold to unsuspecting consumers. By performing their due diligence, collectors can protect both our shared heritage and themselves.”

To read more about the raid and recovered artifacts, click here.

AC in the News: Congress Combatting Money Laundering Via Antiquities Sales

AC In The News
The Capitol in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

A bill currently before the Senate could help to close the $26.6 billion American art market to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. If passed, it would remove antiquities dealers’ current exemption from the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires financial institutions to help the U.S. government detect and prevent financial crimes. The current bill, also known as the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, would subject antiquities dealers to the same reporting requirements already required of dealers in precious metals, stones, and jewels, as well as sellers of automobiles, planes, and boats; casinos; pawnbrokers; real estate professionals; and travel agencies.

The main goal of the bill is to put a halt on money laundering and terrorist financing through antiquities in both the U.S. and Europe, which, in turn, protects both the art market and consumers from potentially supporting illegal activities. The Antiquities Coalition is advocating that the bill covers not only antiquities dealers but also art dealers to further its protection against money laundering. The House of Representatives has given their approval and is now waiting on the Senate.

artnet News spoke to the Antiquities Coalition about why this—and more—is needed.

To learn more about the bill, read this article.


Don’t Miss It: Peter Herdrich to Speak to the National Arts Club on November 26th

National Arts ClubThe Archaeology Committee is delighted to announce that Peter Herdrich returns to The National Arts Club to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing the archaeological community.

Location: 15 Gramercy Park South

Date: November 26, 2019

Time: 6:30 P.M. – Program, 7:30 P.M. – Reception

Lecture Details:

The Battle for Our Shared Cultural Heritage

Throughout the globe, some of the world’s greatest monuments and evidence of material culture have disappeared leaving us bereft of their physical beauty and important lessons in shared humanity.

The last decade has drawn increased interest in heritage preservation with the Antiquities Coalition a leader in combating looting and illicit trafficking of artefacts. It’s co-founder and Digital Library of the Middle East project director, Peter Herdrich will discuss the breakthrough work of the Digital Library’s visualization projects involving museums and libraries across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as its trailblazing role working with UN partners implementing international cultural heritage policy in its struggle against organized criminals who destroy history.


Straight to the Source: The AC Interviews Amed Demirhan About the Digital Library of the Middle East

AC Co-founder, Peter Herdrich, had a chance to sit down with Amed Demirhan, renowned international librarian and a project co-director of the Digital Library of the Middle East’s (DLME) “Digitizing the Kurdish Heritage Institute Collection” initiative in Sulaimani, the Kurdistan Federal Region of Iraq.

Their discussion dives into libraries, cultural heritage preservation, and the work that Amed is leading on-the-ground in Kurdistan.

Book Lovers Day: Why We Must Fight to Protect Books

November 2nd is Book Lovers Day and on this special day, we discuss the importance of libraries, books, and other bibliographical material as it pertains to cultural heritage and the antiquities.

The Importance of Books in Cultural Heritage

Books are knowledge systems that can be used to educate readers about culture, history, and anything in-between. Books can take you on an adventure through fictional and non-fictional stories while you learn something along the way. They are an important tool to be used to tell stories; however, not everyone wants these stories to be told.

Books can be targeted by violent regimes who aim to wipe out cultures and anything in opposition to their beliefs. Libricide is commonly used to describe this. It is the destruction of libraries, books, and other biographical material typically lead by these violent regimes.

Because books are paper, they are much more susceptible to destruction by fire or bombing that we have seen destroy so many precious antiquities. Dr. Rebecca Knuth recommends that important cultural and historical texts be converted to digital versions to preserve them no matter what extremists come along. Dr. Knuth says that the areas most likely to see libricide happen are areas with war, extremism, and ethnic-religious conflict.