Phoenix Ancient Art Voluntarily Repatriates 251 Antiquities to Italy Worth $2.7 Million

May 29, 2009, 13:00 ET from Phoenix Ancient Art

Leading Antiquities Dealer Urges Other Dealers to Follow Suit

NEW YORK and GENEVA, May 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Phoenix Ancient Art, the world's leading dealer in rare treasures from ancient Western civilizations, announced today that it has voluntarily repatriated 251 antiquities valued at $2.7 Million (EU 2Million) to the State of Italy.

"We returned these ancient artifacts in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with the international art world, and to demonstrate Phoenix's commitment to the preservation and repatriation of national treasures to their host countries," said Ali Aboutaam, co-owner of Phoenix Ancient Art. "We have, amicably settled the matter with the Italian authorities, and urge others in the art world to follow suit and also the lead of some of the world's great museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in repatriating antiquities whose provenance may be in doubt."

According to Italian officials, the antiquities returned may have been illegally acquired and exported (unbeknownst to Phoenix) in the 1980's from Etruscan tombs in central Italy, as well as from burial sites in southern Italy.

"To ensure the provenance of our items, we spend much of our time verifying an art work's pedigree. In our due diligence process we ask each seller of artwork for proof of identity, as well as for documents pertaining to how long the piece has been in circulation," said C. Michael Hedqvist, managing director of Phoenix Ancient Art's gallery in Geneva.

Mr. Hedqvist indicated that, "The returned items were acquired by Phoenix a long time ago, without knowing of their doubtful provenance. Even though a court in Geneva in 2007 rejected the Italian claim and awarded title of the antiquities to Phoenix, proving that we were not at fault, we chose to return the disputed items to the Italian State."

ABOUT PHOENIX ANCIENT ART

Phoenix Ancient Art (www.phoenixancientart.com) the world's leading dealers in rare and exquisite antiquities from cultures that make up the essence of Western Civilization. Its works of art have been purchased by world-class museums around the world, as well as by private individuals. Formally incorporated in 1995, Phoenix Ancient Art is a second-generation family business that was founded by Sleiman Aboutaam in 1968 and continues today under the leadership of his sons, Hicham and Ali.

The Phoenix Ancient Art gallery is located at 47 East 66th St., New York, (212) 288-7518. Their Geneva Gallery is located at 6 rue Verdaine, 1211 Geneva 3, Switzerland, and is open Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Appointments for Saturday can be made by calling (011) 41 22 318 8010.

SOURCE Phoenix Ancient Art



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