Manhattan DA Returns 10 Antiquities Worth $1.4 Million to Egypt

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg returns 10 antiquities, valued at $1.4 million, to Egypt as part of an investigation into the Dib-Simonian trafficking network. The repatriation ceremony marks the return of 27 pieces to Egypt since 2022, with a combined value exceeding $6.5 million.

Hadeel Hashem
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Manhattan DA Returns 10 Antiquities Worth $1.4 Million to Egypt

Manhattan DA Returns 10 Antiquities Worth $1.4 Million to Egypt

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced the return of 10 antiquities, collectively valued at $1.4 million, to the people of Egypt on Tuesday. Eight of these artifacts were recovered as part of the ongoing investigation into the notorious "Dib-Simonian" antiquities trafficking network.

Why this matters: The recovery and repatriation of these antiquities highlight the importance of international cooperation in combating the illicit trade in cultural heritage, which has significant implications for the preservation of historical treasures and the fight against organized crime. The success of this investigation and others like it can help to disrupt trafficking networks and prevent the loss of cultural artifacts for generations to come.

The repatriation ceremony took place in the presence of Ambassador Howaida Essam, the Consul General of Egypt in New York. Since 2022, the Manhattan DA's office has returned a total of 27 pieces to Egypt, with a combined value exceeding $6.5 million.

District Attorney Bragg emphasized the importance of protecting Egypt's rich cultural heritage, stating, "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."

Ambassador Essam expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, saying,"I would like to thank all members of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit for the significant role in the investigations that has contributed to the success of the return of these antiquities to their homeland."

The returned items include an alabaster vase and at least one artifact believed to predate the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo remarked, "Today, we return 10 artifacts to the Republic of Egypt, including at least one that is believed to pre-date the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. These extraordinary pieces, some as small as two inches long, offer a glimpse into a robust world unlike anything that continues to exist."

During District Attorney Bragg's tenure, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU) has recovered more than 2,000 antiquities stolen from over 25 countries, valued at more than $250 million. Since its creation, the ATU has recovered more than 5,750 antiquities valued at over $450 million and has returned more than 4,500 so far.

The investigation into the Dib-Simonian network, spearheaded by the Manhattan DA's office, has had significant international ramifications. Information developed and shared by the office with law enforcement agencies worldwide led to the indictment or arrest of nine individuals in France, including the former director of the Louvre Museum. Serop Simonian, the head of the ring, was extradited from Germany and jailed in Paris last fall.

The ATU collaborated with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), France's Central Directorate of Judicial Police's Office for Combating Trafficking in Cultural Property (OCBC), and Germany's Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) Kunst und Kulturgutkriminalität to investigate and recover the stolen antiquities.

The repatriation of these antiquities to Egypt highlights the tireless efforts of international law enforcement agencies to combat the illicit trade in cultural heritage. By collaborating across borders, authorities aim to dismantle trafficking networks, recover stolen artifacts, and ensure the preservation of invaluable historical treasures for generations to come.

Key Takeaways

  • Manhattan DA returns 10 antiquities worth $1.4M to Egypt.
  • 8 artifacts recovered from "Dib-Simonian" trafficking network.
  • Since 2022, 27 pieces worth $6.5M returned to Egypt.
  • Antiquities Trafficking Unit recovered 2,000+ stolen items from 25+ countries.
  • International cooperation led to 9 indictments/arrests in France and Germany.