Wide geography of the era
The illegal market for international antiques, despite all the efforts of law enforcement agencies in different countries, continues to flourish. Neither private collectors nor, alas, even individual museums and galleries disdain to acquire rare artifacts illegally. However, the efforts of the guards of the law do not always remain fruitless.
So, in September, a group of smugglers was detained trying to take out an antique sarcophagus from Turkey. The cybercriminals hoped to bail out $ 750,000 for the goods. The valuable object of cultural heritage was handed over to the Selchuk Museum, REN TV reports. A few days earlier, another 528 items of the Bronze Age were seized in southeastern Turkey – coins, daggers, spearheads and arrowheads, bowls, bracelets, etc.
According to Izvestia’s source, a huge stream of antiquities comes from Syria, where museums, archives and depositories were plundered by opponents of the legitimate government. In some cases, illegal shipments go directly to Europe, the United States, and sometimes through Turkey.
But not only hot spots suffer, recently a scandal erupted over the illegal export of sculpture from Italy. According to the documents, a fragment of a Roman copy of the statue of Athena by the ancient Greek sculptor Myron was intended for the collection of the American TV presenter and Internet celebrity Kim Kardashian. Representatives of the diva said that the name Kardashian was simply used, and she allegedly did not know anything about the deal.
We don’t need a Turkish coast
Ancient artifacts are also found in abundance on the territory of Russia – Hellenic and Roman colonies existed for many centuries on the shores of the Black Sea. Objects related to the cultures of the autochthonous peoples of the Black Sea region are of great interest both for science and for collectors. Much scientific work has been carried out for decades in the Crimea, Rostov region, Krasnodar Territory. “Black archeologists” with smugglers do not sit idle either. At the end of August, the Crimean customs officers detained a man who was trying to take 84 antiquities to Ukraine (jewelry, tools, arrowheads), including those dating back to the 8th century BC.
“The examination confirmed that all the artifacts are of cultural value and were obtained as a result of archaeological excavations, both authorized and unauthorized,” said the press secretary of the Crimean customs, Irina Khvostenko.
Another fact of smuggling of antique values was revealed by Kaliningrad customs officers in January of this year. A long-distance driver tried to take to Lithuania two helmets made in the period of the 3rd century BC. – 1st century A.D. In August, a criminal case of smuggling was sent to court. The cost of one of the items on the antique market was about 180 thousand rubles, the second – 200 thousand.
Punishment for the shuttle
Russian legislation severely restricts the export of valuables from the country, as well as illegal import.
“For cultural property, a special procedure has been established for moving across the border,” says lawyer Andrei Lyamzin. – Citizens and organizations have the right to export, temporary export, import or temporary import of cultural property.
According to Art. 5 of the Federal Law “On the Export and Import of Cultural Property”, they include movable objects of the material world, regardless of the time of their creation, that have historical, artistic, scientific or cultural significance.
Illegal export and import of cultural property may entail criminal liability under Art. 226.1 of the Criminal Code (“Contraband”) or an administrative penalty for one of the compositions provided for in Ch. 16 of the Administrative Code (“Administrative offenses in the field of customs”).
It also provides for criminal liability (Art. 190 of the Criminal Code) for failure to return, within a specified time, to the territory of the country of cultural property exported outside its borders, if such return is mandatory in accordance with the law.
Examination of cultural property imported into the Russian Federation is carried out at the request of the customer of the examination, carrying out the import of cultural property, on the basis of his application.
People with metal detectors
The main suppliers of smugglers are “black archaeologists” – robbers of tombs and burial mounds. FSB officers regularly work with such a contingent. Earlier, Izvestia wrote about investigative actions in the “private museum” of Guy Pershing, where detectives and art critics seized more than 1,500 archaeological items. With a high degree of probability, they could have been obtained illegally in different regions of the country. Their admission to the fund was not formalized by the gallery owner.
The greatest activity of “black archaeologists” is observed in the Crimea – last year, for example, the republican department of the FSB detained a group of Ukrainian citizens who were conducting excavations in the city of Bakla. About 400 antiquities found in the ground were seized from the detainees, including bronze arrowheads of the 7th – 4th centuries BC, coins from the times of the Roman Empire.
– The market is large, the demand is also great. Interest in antiques began during the period of intensive development of resources by Europeans in the east. The local population satisfied the demand for authentic antique artifacts, and also fabricated remakes, passing them off as antiquities, – says the museum worker, collector Alexander Savinov.
According to the interlocutor, the market for antique artifacts has been “littered” since the 18th century, not counting the fakes of the Renaissance – when famous schools fabricated remakes for the Pope and his court.
– However, today on the Middle Eastern antique shops many genuine things are exhibited, but there are only a few masterpieces among them. Valuable things are immediately taken out – as a rule, such players always have direct contact with European antique houses.