Twenty-nine Greek antiquities, products of looting and smuggling from Macedonia, Epirus, Central Greece, the Cyclades and Crete, were handed over by the Manhattan Prosecutor’s office in USA to Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.
The antiquities ended up in the USA, through the criminal networks of illegal trafficking of cultural goods.
Marble and bronze figurines of people and animals, silver, bronze and earthenware vessels, gold and bronze jewelry, part of a fresco, which were in the Shelby White Collection,are among the returned objects.
Also, an extremely rare gold coin, which refers to the Ides of March (EID MAR), the day of the assassination of Julius Caesar and minted in 42 BCE to commemorate the assassination. The coin was seized at an Auction House.
These antiquities cover a wide chronological range from prehistoric to Roman times and include a bronze calyx krater dating to 350 BCE that was seized in January; the Neolithic Family Group which dates to 5000-3500 BCE and is valued at $3 million.
All objects were reportedly seized pursuant to multiple criminal investigations into high-profile traffickers and smugglers.
Investigations were supervised by Matthew Bogdanos, head of the Manhattan district attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit.
Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has announced the return of 29 looted antiquities to Greece.
The antiquities were returned during a repatriation ceremony at the Greek Consulate attended by Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, and Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in New York.
“Antiquities trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar business with looters and smugglers turning a profit at the expense of cultural heritage, and Greece – long acknowledged as the cradle of Western Civilization – is especially susceptible to this type of criminal enterprise,” Arvelo said.
“These treasured artifacts date from as far back as 5000 BCE and were a valued part of life in the ancient world. We are honored to join our partners today in the repatriation of this priceless cultural heritage to the people of Greece,” he added.