Thursday 7 May 2020

Pandora IV/ Athena II More Puzzling Details

More on these much-hyped raids (Sam Jones, 'Police seize 19,000 stolen artefacts in international art trafficking crackdown' Guardian Thu 7 May 2020). Again we hear of two huge international police operations targeting the trade in stolen artworks and archaeological artefacts, the arrest of 101 people and the recovery of more than 19,000 items in a series of joint initiatives (Interpol, Europol, the World Customs Organization and many national police forces) and that "details of the two concurrent investigations carried out last autumn are emerging only now for operational reasons". The Guardian went for the gold:
 Police officers in Spain recovered several rare pre-Columbian objects at Madrid’s Barajas airport, including a unique Tumaco gold mask, gold figurines and pieces of ancient jewellery. All had been illegally acquired by looting in Colombia. Three traffickers were arrested in Spain, while Colombian police carried out a series of searches in Bogotá, resulting in the confiscation of a further 242 pre-Columbian objects – the largest such seizure in the country’s history.
I think we've seen this mask before. It's said to be from the La Tolita culture of the Tumaco–Esmeraldas region on the Pacific coast of South America. It was seized in October last year  (see here and here in English)

Spanish police recovered a unique Tumaco gold mask. Photograph: Interpol
It did not look all that authentic the first time round. There is a whole thread here by Donna Yates who raises a lot of questions ("I'd be getting an authenticity evaluation ASAP", did they in the intervening six months before they made this announcement?). And back overseas:

Colombian authorities retrieved 242 objects. Photograph: Interpol
 and then:
Afghan customs officials at Kabul confiscated 971 cultural objects bound for Istanbul.
Here they are:

 The similar looking glazed flasks with the incised lines and the same surface 'patina' don't impress me. I'm not sure how many collectors they'd charm. Now admittedly I do not know what Afghan folk pottery looks like, but these do not look very much like ancient objects to me (I stand to be corrected). The weird-looking tripod (?) vessel at the back with the antelope horns is not very enticing either. There's also a (quite attractive but I suspect chemically patinated) rhyton, a cylinder seal and pre-Columbian seated figure there.

The Guardian has a photo of some (probably real) objects "Cultural objects seized in Italy. Photograph: Interpol" but it is not clear if they were part of this operation, other sources do not mention them. The stories of the late eighteenth century codex and the Austro-Hungarian coin also illustrated in the article as having been seized are not explained. 

A telling slip of the tongue here, methinks:
“Organised crime has many faces,” said its executive director, Catherine de Bolle. “The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them: it is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks. You cannot look at it separately from combating trafficking in drugs and weapons: we know that the same groups are engaged, because it generates big money.”

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.