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Art Theft

Distasteful and nebulous payments to criminals, and now this? Art loss register fail and have to backtrack, yet again.



Ancient Greek vases identified as having once been in possession of convicted dealer Gianfranco Becchina

Vase1234A view of some of the vases on Cahn’s stand. Photograph: Dr Christos Tsirogiannis

In January 2015, the art squad of the Italian carabinieri hosted a press conference in Rome at which they proudly displayed more than 5,000 illicit antiquities, with an estimated value of €50m (£45m), that they had repatriated to Italy from a Switzerland-based Sicilian dealer named Gianfranco Becchina. He had been linked to widespread looting networks and his eventual conviction was deemed a victory in the battle against illegal trafficking of cultural property.

The row over Becchina’s former stock has reignited after two vases that were once in his possession went on sale at the prestigious Frieze Masters art fair in Regent’s Park, London. They were on the stand of a Basel-based dealer named Jean-David Cahn – price “upon request”, but upwards of £100,000 apiece.

To read more on the Guardian:


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