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Editors Note: The USA didn't sign the UNESCO treaty until the early 1970s, nor was it fully ratified until the Reagan administration circa 1984. Since the works presence in the United States preceded that legislation, the newer statute may not be applied to the formerly legal object. This is covered by the 6th Amendment of the Constitution and the ex post facto clause.


In what can only be described as a highly unusual art law case, a Manhattan federal judge has ordered Christie’s auction house to identify the winning—yet ultimately unsuccessful—bidder of a 5,000-year-old artifact that Turkey is claiming as stolen cultural property.

The bizarre part? The troubled deal stemmed from an auction in late April that was never consummated. The buyer reneged and Christie’s still possesses the piece, described as an Anatolian marble female idol of Kiliya type. The artifact, known as the Guennol Stargazer, has been in the US for nearly 60 years and has already passed through the hands of several owners since it was allegedly illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country.

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You may also like to read:

*  The Art of Mad Men

*  Stubborn Stand-off Over Stolen Gardner Museum Art

*  Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

 Lead Image Courtesy Christies

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