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News: Smuggled Antiquities
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A rattle in the Shape of Kubera, circa 200 BC was among the artefacts. Photo Credit: Honolulu Museum of Art.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Honolulu Museum of Art aids international antiquities theft investigation

The retrieved items will be returned to India

Seven artefacts from India at the Honolulu Museum of Art have been identified as stolen and handed in by the Museum to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and will be returned to India.

The artefacts were identified when Immigration and customs enforcement agents contacted the museum last year after determining a 2000-year-old terra cotta rattle as possibly a stolen item. The museum then identified more pieces deriving from the same source. The New York art dealer who provided the artefacts is considered to be part of an international illegal antiquities trade and is currently awaiting trial in India.

Homeland Security Special Agent Brenton Easter, part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said that the Museum was very willing to help with the investigation, thanking them and stressing their cooperation.

Stephan Jost, Honolulu Museum of Art Director, said: “They don’t belong here. They’re stolen. On one hand I hope they find a great home someplace. On the other hand, we’ve had them on view here almost 25 years. Lots of people loved them. The bottom line is they don’t belong here.”

The items were carefully packed and loaded onto a truck, heading towards the East Coast while authorities build their case. Eventually, they, too, will return home.

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