On Friday, September 7 2018, a marble inscribed grave stele crafted in an Attic workshop was repatriated to Greece, having been exported illegally from this country and located while being sold at an antiquities auction at Sotheby’s, London. The following announcement was made by the Ministry of Culture and Sports: “The Ministry of Culture, through the relevant Directorate for Documentation and Protection of Cultural Goods, making use of proper information and in collaboration with the authorities, prosecuting and judicial, has gone ahead with the necessary legal action. The stele was eventually handed over by the auction house to the Metropolitan Police of London for it to be returned to Greece.”
The artefact is a typical example of a marble Attic stele of the Classical era with a palmette capital. There are two rosettes in relief on its front and the beginning of a name can be distinguished under them, possibly that of the deceased: ΕΣΤΙ[ΑΙΟΣ]. The stele dates from round 340 BC and definitely comes from some ancient cemetery of Attica since the specific type was exclusively that of Attic sculpture workshops.
The Greek Embassy in London played a substantial part by helping from the outset in every convenient way so as to complete the necessary procedures for the return of the stele. After repatriation the stele was handed over to the Epigraphical Museum.