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US authorities return antiquities linked with notorious smuggling ring to Egypt

The Egyptian items repatriated by the Manhattan District Attorney's office this week, collectively valued at $1.4m.
05.05.24 | Source: The art newspaper

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg announced on Thursday (2 May) that ten antiquities collectively valued at $1.4 million had been restituted to Egyptian officials.

Eight of the objects were recovered as part of the Manhattan DA's investigation into the Dib-Simonian trafficking network, a nine-person team that allegedly included former Musée du Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez and facilitated the sale and purchase of looted cultural artefacts to institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Louvre Abu Dhabi. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, chief of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, supervised the investigation. The head of the ring, Serop Simonian, an art dealer in his 80s, was arrested last year in Germany and transferred to France.

Since 2022, the Manhattan DA’s office has returned 27 items to the government of Egypt, valued at more than $6.5m in total.

“Egypt has an incredibly rich cultural history that we will not allow to be diminished by selfish looters and traffickers. I am proud that my Office has successfully returned more than 25 antiquities to Egypt in just over two years, and we look forward to continued work with our partners at HSI to protect cultural heritage all around the globe,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement.