Saturday, February 14, 2009

Turkish Museum Director and 9 Others Convicted in Theft of Repatriated Treasures

The Associated Press has this short blurb about convictions related to the theft of the "Lydian Hoard" that had been repatriated from the Met to a small, provincial Turkish museum:

10 jailed in Turkey for stealing Croesus' treasure

The Associated Press Friday, February 13, 2009 ANKARA, Turkey:

The director of a state museum and nine others have been convicted in Turkey for stealing some of the fabled ancient treasures of King Croesus. A coin and a gold brooch in the shape of a winged sea horse were taken from a museum displaying possessions of the wealthy king of Lydia who ruled in the 6th century B.C. The ancient kingdom was in modern day western Turkey. A court in the western city of Usak says museum director Kazim Akbiyiklioglu was imprisoned on Friday for nearly 13 years for theft and embezzlement. Nine others received lesser prison terms. The treasures were replaced by fakes in 2006 and the original pieces have not been recovered. The pieces were among items smuggled out of Turkey in the 1960s and returned to the country only in 1993.

This episode was discussed in depth in Sharon Waxman's recent work, "Loot." See:

The story speaks for itself as does the relatively little publicity the convictions are receiving. Contrast this to the extensive front page coverage for repatriation claims against museums like the Met. The archaeological community and source countries have little incentive to publicize stories about poor stewardship of repatriated artifacts to the press. Thus, although they sometimes get reported, the coverage of them pales in comparison to that afforded to the latest claim that dealers, museums or collectors are trading in "stolen cultural patrimony." Are double standards at work here?

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