30 Oct 2018

Cultural property repatriated to Italy and Bolivia

An Etruscan lar and a Tiwanaku jar have been repatriated to Italy and Bolivia

PRESS RELEASE

30 October 2018 

The Art Loss Register is happy to announce the repatriation of two objects to Italy and Bolivia. Ceremonies arranged at the British Embassy in Rome and the Bolivian Embassy in London have taken place over the past week where the ALR’s work in recovering stolen and looted cultural property was recognised.

The object returned to Italy in early October was an Etruscan bronze ‘lar’ statuette (a household god). It was stolen from the Archaeological Museum in Siena in 1988, along with many other pieces, and was registered on the databases of Interpol, the Carabinieri TPC and the Art Loss Register.

In May 2018, the lar appeared for sale at a UK auction house, when it was matched to the lost one by the ALR as part of our routine catalogue searching for auction houses.

The ALR contacted the Carabinieri and the UK police, and the item was held. When the consignor was informed of the piece’s provenance, he willingly renounced his title to the object and it was returned to Italy in a ceremony last week at the British Embassy in Rome.

The recovery of the statuette follows that of a similar Etruscan bronze votary stolen in the same theft that was identified by the ALR at a major art fair with a US dealer last year.

James Ratcliffe from the Art Loss Register commented:

“We are delighted to have been able to identify this stolen lar being offered unwittingly by a UK auction house. The provenance provided to them stated that it had been consigned “from an important London W1 collection, previously acquired before 1970”. The fact that it had been stolen in Siena in 1988 demonstrates the need for careful checks of the provenance provided on consignment”.

 

In another case, Bolivian authorities were notified of a sale of an important Pre-Columbian jar from the site of Tiwanaku. The jar was fired around 1500 years ago, and was recovered recently at a Cambridge auction house after the consignor was asked to provide evidence that it had been exported prior to Bolivia’s 1906 cultural property law. The ALR and the Metropolitan Police’s Art & Antique Squad advised the Bolivian Embassy in the UK on their claim.

At an event help at King’s College London on 16th October, Emma Felber from the Bolivian Embassy acknowledged the ALR’s assistance in the case: “The Embassy is very grateful to the Art Loss Register, the Arts and Antiquities Unit of the Metropolitan Police, Trafficking Culture and to the archaeological community for their help in recovering the jar”.

Representatives of the Art Loss Register, the Bolivian Embassy in the UK and the Metropolitan Police Art & Antiques Squad at the repatriation ceremony of the Tiwanaku jar