Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Rick St Hilaire on the "Windsor Antiquities Bust"

David Gill noticed it first, but I thought I'd mention it here too. Rick St Hilaire (one of the few web-active US cultural property lawyers who is not cheerleading for the Dark Side) has on his excellent blog a series of posts this month on the "Windsor Antiquities Bust" in the US. These posts provide a lot of interesting details:

Saturday, July 16, 2011, 'Antiquities Conspirators Charged';

Monday, July 18, 2011, 'A Closer Look at the Case Against Moussa “Morris” Khouli and the Greco-Roman Coffin'

Saturday, July 23, 2011, 'Bail Set, Lawyers File Appearances in Khouli Antiquities Smuggling Case' (it is also worth looking up Khouli's lawyer Gerald Shargel, who also has a Wikipedia page);

Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 'Salem Alshdaifat and his company, Holyland Numismatics'.

It now turns out that Morris Khouli was arrested back in 2009 charged with smuggling cultural property into the United States.
But federal prosecutors wanted Khouli as an informant. A previously sealed prosecution letter to the court dated October 19, 2009 explains: “Khouli has expressed an interest in cooperating proactively against others who deal in stolen cultural property . . . These crimes are difficult to detect and prove because they are committed by falsifying importation documents and provenances. Khouli’s cooperation is therefore of great value to the government and will not only contribute to the investigation of others who smuggle and deal in stolen cultural property, but will enable the United States government to seize and repatriate stolen cultural property to the countries that own the property under applicable treaties and patrimony laws.”
So, can we expect more arrests to result from this investigation, apart from the politically useful repatriations? It is interesting to note that among the items seized from Khouli's store included "thousands of ancient coins valued at $1 million". Where did these coins come from, and what was their intended destination? Did he only supply individual collectors, or did he supply US dealers with coins for example? Has HSI managed to gather useful intelligence on dodgy activity of US coineys from Khouli? Time will tell. :>)

Vignette: A Manhattan Art & Antique Center vendor booth believed to belong to Mousa Khouli, who has recently been charged with smuggling Egyptian antiquities (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal).



David Gill said...

Could there be hundreds of coin acquirers who are about to be cited in this case?

Paul Barford said...

Certainly David, if the other 'misrepresented shipment' smuggling case being tried in the same court which I have discussed is anything to go by, that is a distinct possibility.

That would certainly go a long way to cleaning up the market, bringing home to collectors that handling dodgy artefacts has consequences.

It would be more interesting if they took the opportunity to use information from Khouli to bring down a few ACCG dealers. If this was announced at the same time as the Baltimore illegal coin import stunt case came before a court, that would do a great deal to wake US public opinion up to what was going on on the antiquities market right under their noses.

Go for it guys. Get them.

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