Stolen Greek Statue Returned to Greece


This 1,900 year-old torso has been returned to Athens after it was seized in Switzerland. It was recovered in March from the Swiss city of Basel. It had been taken in 1991 from the island of Crete. Switzerland has historically been a transit state for many antiquities, however it has worked to change that in recent months by signing on to the largely symbolic 1970 UNESCO Convention, but also implementing that convention effectively by signing bilateral agreements with Peru, Italy and Greece.

I wonder why the Swiss dealer David Cahn who had the statue was not subject to any criminal penalties, or indeed why he gave up the object so freely. Had the object been in the United States, he would have been subject to Federal Prosecution.

This object was not illicitly excavated, but rather was stolen along with 9 other items. From the comments of the Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, it seems he is connecting the return of this theft with the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. Clearly though, the two cases are much different.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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