Articles seized by Law Enforcement
One of the most prolific collections of creative works has recently been walking through an incredible daytime nightmare. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (‘the Met’) is currently the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere. It has a permanent collection of over 2 million works and these are divided between 17 curatorial departments. The museum, located in the Central Park area of New York City at 1000 Fifth Avenue, has been in existence since 1870. The Manhattan District Attorney's office reportedly seized 27 exhibitions that had been previously taken from a variety of other countries.
Returning cultural artifacts to their home countries, after they have been stolen, has been an ongoing process for this majestic museum. Although Art is craved by creative souls for its inspirational aspects and beauty, it is also very valuable. Burglaries have been a source of malicious content for centuries. Since 2017, a total of nine warrants have been issued to regain stolen property and return them to its original owners. Six of these warrants were issued this year with the largest in mid-July. Twenty-one (21) articles were confiscated with a value of over 11 million dollars.
It is important to note that The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has not been charged in this ongoing incredible process. The most recent seizure included a marble head of the goddess Athena and a pair of statues of Castor and Pollux. These are figures from both Greek and Roman Mythology.
A spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg told CNN, “We have two repatriation ceremonies next week, one with Italy and one with Egypt”. “Fifty-eight objects will go back to Italy, 21 from the Met. Sixteen to Egypt, six from the Met.” Specific details of where the other artifacts were seized from did not come to light by Bragg. “It should be no secret to collectors, art museums, and auction houses that they may be in possession of pieces from known traffickers that were illegally looted. The investigations conducted by my office have clearly exposed these networks and put into the public domain a wealth of information the art world can proactively use to return antiquities to where they rightfully belong. Our investigations, which have led to the repatriation of nearly 2,000 objects, will continue”, Bragg reported.
A spokesperson for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kenneth Weine said, “The museum is a leader in the field in comprehensively reviewing individual matters, and it has returned many pieces based upon thorough review-oftentimes in partnership with law enforcement and outside experts. The norms of collecting have changed significantly, and The Met’s policies and procedures in this regard have been under constant review over the past 20 years.”
The ongoing process of securing, documenting, and seizing antiquities taken from their rightful owners in foreign countries can only be applauded in these incredible global times. The New York District Attorney’s office and the staff, curators, and laborers of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City are to be commended for their service to the public welfare and continuity of truth still present in the United States of America.