French police specializing in crimes in the sphere of art, detained five art experts in the framework of the investigation of the trade in antiquities illegally exported from the Middle East. According to the source of the legal bodies, in the number of those arrested is a former curator of the Louvre and a member of the auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés. The same source reports that we are talking about “selling hundreds of works total cost several tens of millions of euros”, which, presumably, was illegally exported from Egypt, Syria and Yemen, as well as from the territories of Libya, which was under the control of the terrorist group “Islamic state”. The investigation of fraud in the group of individuals hiding stolen assets and money laundering is conducted with the 2018 notes theartnewspaper.
Representatives of the Pierre Bergé & Associés, declined to comment, while the Louvre has stated that it does not have reliable information about the arrest of the former head of the Department of near Eastern antiquities.
The Art Newspaper suggests that the French investigation is connected with the investigative actions conducted in the past eight years in the United States, Belgium and Switzerland and led to the search in the Brussels gallery Phoenix Ancient Art in the past year. From its warehouse in Brussels were seized hundreds of objects, and in Geneva, thousands were arrested to verify their provenance; today some of them returned to their owners gallery.
Aboutaam heacham, co-founder of Phoenix Ancient Art, said that in the past he happened to pass on the implementation to Pierre Bergé for a number of things, but “all of them received complete documentation before the middle East started the riots”. He adds: “what Happened historically active discreditied the Paris market, and I hope it will be a stimulus for the formulation of clear legal principles from the global database and the mechanism for repatriation, which will make the antiquities market more transparent.”