Ancient Underground Tomb Discovered in Looting Raid

AP Photo:  Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay

 Authorities in Turkey have discovered an “important archaeological site” while searching for looted antiquities, reports the Associated Press.  The discovery was made near Milas, in western Turkey.  This sarcophagus may have contained artifacts, but they have disappeared, likely lost in the illicit trade.  The piece describes the tunnels:

[T]he suspects had dug two tunnels — 6 and 8 meters (yards) long, from the house and an adjacent barn, leading to the tomb that is buried some 10 meters (yards) deep.
They used sophisticated equipment to drill through the thick marble walls of the tomb and were working to remove the coffin from the underground chamber when they were detained, according to the Culture Ministry.
“I would have wished that this (archaeological find) had been discovered through our digs and not through digs conducted by a band of treasure hunters,” Anatolia quoted Gunay as saying.
“This is not an ordinary treasure hunt. It is very organized and it is obvious that they received economic and scientific help,” Gunay said, adding that Turkey also would investigate the suspects possible overseas links.

  1. Turkey Discovers Ancient Underground Tomb : NPR, , (last visited Aug 13, 2010).
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Adieu Australia, by Garry Shead, recently stolen in Sydney
  • Eighteen works stolen from a home in Sydney. 
  • The city of New York is suing Christie’s over architect Jacob Wrey Mould’s watercolor drawings which were found in the garbage fifty years ago.  
  • The remanded trial to determine whether Fisk University can sell parts of the Stieglitz collection continues. 
  • Eli Broad says museums need to “get art out of the basement“.  
  • A Henry Moore sketch has been stolen from a gallery in south Worcestershire. 
  • Another lenient sentence handed down in the 4 corners case, this time only 3 years probation.  This is the eighth of the defendants to receive a lenient sentence, though the prosecution claims that the massive investigation has sent a message that this kind of looting will be punished. 
  • “Joyance”, a statue by William Goscombe John has been stolen from a park in Cardiff. 
  • Thieves have defaced a Louise Bourgeois sculpture on Lafayette square in New Orleans—given as a gift by the artist to the city at his own expense after the storm. 
  • The Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Minister Qahtan al-Juburi says that more than 36,000 artifacts have been recovered in the past seven years. 
  • Looting continues in Cambodia. 
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Not Enough Support for Deaccessioning Bill in New York

The Brodsky Bill looks to be dead for now.  The bill would have made it more difficult for cultural institutions to deaccession parts of their collection.  Many of the prohibitions contemplated under the bill are already in place by regulations promulgated by the New York state Board of Regents and to a lesser extent by the AAMD.  As a result at least Donn Zaretsky won’t be shedding any tears for the bill. The bill was criticized by the Met and a number of other institutions like zoos and public libraries which would have faced unintended difficulties with certain aspects of the legislation as well.   

You can read what I think of all this in more detail here

  1. Robin Pogrebin, Bill to Stop Museums From Certain Art Sales May Die, The New York Times, August 10, 2010, (last visited Aug 11, 2010).
  2. Erica Orden & Craig Karmin, Chelsea Museum Risks Losing Charter,, August 10, 2010, (last visited Aug 11, 2010).
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Personal Note

Greetings readers.  I beg your apologies for the light posting in recent weeks.  Joni and I have been undertaking a move from New Orleans to Houston, where I will take up a position as Assistant Professor at South Texas College of Law.  I hope to have lots more time for posting here in the coming months.

I’ve also taken on a role with ARCA (the Association for Research into Crimes against Art).  Many of you are probably familiar with this organization.  I’ve taken on a co-directorship with my wife Joni.  She’ll be bringing her experience in running and operating non-profit organizations, and I’ll have a terrific opportunity to run the Masters certificate program held in Amelia, Italy each summer.

It has been a very fast four years since I first started posting here about law and art, and I thank you for your continued readership.  These new opportunities should help to continue to elevate the importance of heritage law and policy, and provide invaluable opportunities to write and think about these important ideas.

Thanks as always for reading!

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Philome Obin’s “Last Supper” at the Cathedral of Sainte Trinite in Haiti

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