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89 Moche Artifacts – Peru v. Johnson
After the discovery of the Moche site of Sipán (Peru) in the mid-eighties, many objects were looted and smuggled out of the country. In 1987, a smuggler who had been involved in the exportation of these objects to the United States contacted United States Customs agents and led to the eventual seizure of 89 Moche artifacts from Benjamin Johnson, a private collector. The government of Peru sued to retrieve the artifacts from Johnson. Peru’s claim was unsuccessful and the 89 artifacts remained in Johnson’s possession.
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Etruscan Black-Figured Kalpis – Italy and Toledo Museum of Art
After an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations, the Toledo Museum of Art returned in 2013 an Etruscan black-figure kalpis to Italy. The kalpis was found to be smuggled out of Italy after an illegal excavation prior to 1981, then sold to the Toledo Museum of Art in 1982 by Gianfranco and Ursula Becchina, who had earlier purchased it from the art smuggler Giacomo Medici.
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Sarcophage romain – I. SA c. Ordonnance de restitution et Turquie
Fin 2010, lors d’un contrôle d’inventaire aux Ports francs de Genève, l’Administration fédérale des douanes découvre un exceptionnel sarcophage romain représentant les douze travaux d’Hercule. Suspicieuse, l’Administration séquestre le bien. La Turquie se constitue comme partie plaignante dans la procédure pénale ouverte à Genève, se déclarant légitime propriétaire du sarcophage. En 2015, le Ministère public genevois ordonne la restitution de l’objet à la Turquie. Le détenteur du sarcophage recourt en vain devant la Cour de Justice puis au Tribunal fédéral, avant de se rétracter. L’objet doit donc être restitué à la Turquie, mais personne n’a été condamné
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Wasco Sally Bag – American dealer and Paul Cary and the Yakama Nation Museum
In 2007, Paul Cary acquired a Wasco Sally bag, an object from the Native American group, the Yakama Nation, from an American dealer. When Paul Cary learned that the bag was stolen from the Yakama Nation Museum, he returned it to the dealer and informed the museum. Subsequent negotiations initiated between the museum and the dealer would have remained unfruitful, if it was not for the involvement of Paul Cary. He offered the dealer financial compensation for half of his losses should he return the bag to the museum. Moreover, he would attempt to obtain the financing of the second half from the Yakama tribe. The parties agreed.
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Quatre momies – Chili et Personne privée
Le 20 janvier 2011, un particulier restitue quatre momies vieilles de 4000 à 6000 ans au Chili. Des représentants du Chili, des responsables du Musée d’Ethnographie de la Ville de Genève et le Service spécialisé de l’Office fédéral de la culture ont joué un rôle déterminant dans cette affaire.
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14 Antiquities – Italy and Cleveland Museum of Art
On 19 November 2008, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities and the Cleveland Museum of Art signed an agreement concerning 14 antiquities in the museum’s collection. This agreement provides for the return to Italy of the artworks in exchange for loans of “a similar number of works of equal aesthetic and historical significance”.
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Ka Nefer Nefer Mask – United States v. Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer
On July 28, 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request of the United States Government to take further legal action regarding the St. Louis Art Museum’s ownership of the 3200 year old Egyptian Ka Nefer Nefer funerary mask.
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Lebanese Archives – Lebanon and University of Geneva
In 2010, the University of Geneva sent to Lebanon the archives concerning the excavations conducted at Byblos, an archaeological site located in the northern part of Beirut, by the French archaeologist Maurice Dunand. The University had acquired the archives from Dunand in 1984.
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Parrot Lady Sculpture – Canada and India
“Parrot Lady” is a 800 year old sandstone sculpture from a Khajuraho temple in India. It was returned by Canada to India in 2015 in accordance with the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
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Two Souza paintings – Kurtha v. Marks
In 1982, Dr Aziz Kurtha purchased two paintings from the Indian artist Francis Souza. They were stolen years later and their ownership changed a number of times, before Michael Marks purchased them on 10 January 2006.
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