Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Asia Week and the Feds, Another Seizure

Tom Mashberg, 'Federal Agents Seize What They Called an Illicit Antiquity Headed for Asia Week', New York Times March 15, 2016
For the second time in a matter of days, federal agents on Tuesday seized what they described as an illicit antiquity, valued at several hundred thousand dollars, and scheduled to be sold during New York’s Asia Week, a celebration of Asian art that includes museum exhibitions and sales by dealers and auction houses. Officials with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations said in a statement that they had confiscated a “second century bodhisattva schist head” from the Gandhara civilization and likely looted from a region that is now part of Pakistan. [...] The statement did not identify what methods the investigators had used to track the seized item, a head that had been once been part of a larger statue. “It is a common practice for looters to remove just the head of a sculpture in situ because it is easier to smuggle and sell on the black market,” the statement said.
Officials say they have been on the lookout for shipments destined for Asia Week, and that the cargo containing the bodhisattva had “some of the red flags authorities look for,” including false documentation.
The head was intercepted at a port in the New York area while it was in transit to an “East Coast auction house.”On Friday, federal agents seized two sculptures from Christie’s in Midtown Manhattan, both of which they characterized as 'looted' and both of which were scheduled to have been sold this week. What is the matter with these dealers? Why can't they just learn to do their job properly? False papers are so 'yesterday',

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