SWANSEA, Wales, July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on the return of 337 antiquities to Italy as part of Operation Andromeda.
In December 2008 an investigation into the business connections of a London-based antiquities dealer led police to a storage facility in the Geneva Freeport in Switzerland. The premises, owned by a Japanese dealer, were found to contain around 20,000 objects. The dealer decided to co-operate with the authorities and he agreed to the return of 337 objects to Italy. These were revealed in a carefully staged event in the arena of the Colosseum in Rome.
Among the objects returned were 10 frescoes that appeared to come from Pompeii, bronzes, and figure-decorated pottery made in Athens and Southern Italy.
Rome-based investigative reporter Fabio Isman, who recently demonstrated the link between a collection in Madrid and the dealer Giacomo Medici, has revealed the identity of the Japanese dealer as Noryioshi Horiuchi. This individual apparently played a major part in the acquisition of antiquities for the Miho Museum in Japan. It is reported that Italian authorities have identified some 50 objects in the Japanese collection from photographic images seized from Medici and other dealers; one of the key dossiers was found in a police raid on the property of a London dealer on the Greek island of Schinoussa.
The Japanese dealer has also been reported to have had close links with a husband and wife team who ran an antiquities business in Basel, Switzerland. Their premises were raided in 2002 and some 5000 objects were recovered; three trucks were needed to transport some 4400 objects to Italy.
This latest return shows that there continues to be an active market in recently-surfaced antiquities from Italy. This revelation comes in the wake of reports about Madrid's acquisition of potentially "toxic" antiquities for 12 million USD, as well as the appearance of ex-Medici objects at auctions in London and New York.
The US Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) is in the process of extending the Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) with Italy. These cases are a reminder that such MOUs are a key part of the strategy to reduce the looting of archaeological sites that supply fresh material for the market.
SOURCE Looting Matters