Other cases of return or restitution of cultural objects

In some cases, the 1970 Convention does not apply formally: either the States involved have not ratified this instrument or one condition if application is not fulfilled (as non-retroactivity). Other solutions are therefore sought so that Parties concerned can find a mutually acceptable agreement. Even if they do not reflect a strict application of the dispositions of the Convention, these solutions are often adopted in accordance with the spirit and the principles contained in this treaty.

Netherlands - Cyprus, November 2018

Saint Mark mosaic

The mosaic of Saint Mark, dating back to the 6th century AD., has been repatriated to Cyprus from the Netherlands. The repatriation was made possible through the coordinated actions of all involved authorities. More


Kuwait - Egypt, October 2018

Lid of rare antique coffin

Kuwaiti authorities have handed over to Egypt the lid of a rare antique coffin that had been smuggled into the Gulf state last March, according to KUNA. The vintage casket lid was given to the Egyptian embassy after Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters completed a probe into how the relic was smuggled into the country. The lid is believed to have belonged to a sarcophagus, a decorative coffin in which ancient Egyptians buried their dead. More


United Kingdom - Greece, September 2018

Attica ancient marble engraved column

An ancient marble engraved column of Attica style was repatriated to Greece. The column dates back to 340 BC. and comes from an ancient cemetery in Attica.
The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports using information from the prosecution authorities and in cooperation with the judicial authorities, took all the necessary actions for its claim. The column was handed over by the auction house to the London Metropolitan Police in order to be returned to Greece.
The column was delivered to the Epigraphical Museum. More


United States – Libya, July 2018

© Libyan Embassy Washington DC

US government official returned archaeological objects to Libyan officials, a collection of the pottery artefacts originated from the ancient city of Germa. The collection has been acquired in the 1960s by Mr Howard Meadows who worked for US Dept. of State in Libya.

The objects were received by Libyan Ambassador to the United States who expressed her profound appreciation and gratitude to the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for their cooperation. More

Germany - Mexico, March 2018


A joint effort between the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) allowed Mexico to recover two 3,000-year-old archaeological pieces, explained María Villarreal, National Coordinator of Legal Affairs at INAH, to the Notimex Agency.

Ms. Villarreal said the diplomatic and judicial efforts to recover this Olmec heritage took 10 years. The pieces have already re-entered the country. She also highlighted the work of attorney Robert Kugler, who was in charge of the legal process. 

Rupert Gebhard, Director of the Museum of State Collections of Antiquities of Munich, presented the pieces to Villareal and the Mexican Ambassador to Germany, H.E. Rogelio Granguillhome. More


USA - Lebanon, December 2017

© US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York’s Cultural Property, Arts and Antiquities (CPAA) group, in coordination with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (DANY), three marble statues originally excavated from the Temple of Eshmun in Lebanon were repatriated to their home country. The Consul General of Lebanon in New York accepted the return of the artifacts on behalf of Lebanon. More

Guatemala, November 2017

©Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Guatemala

Guatemala successfully repatriated 18 pre-Columbian archaeological objects, which were illegally exported from the country in the 60s and located in Germany, Italy and Switzerland. More

USA - Italy, October 2017

©US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the return of a collection of ancient artifacts to the Italian Republic during a ceremony. More

Republic of Korea - Mongolia, April 2017

©Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea returned 11 dinosaur fossils that were smuggled into the country from Mongolia.
The fossils include those of Tarbosaurus Bataar, a large carnivorous dinosaur whose remains are found only in Mongolia. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office held a ceremony on 7 April to return the fossils, which were illegally brought into the country in 2014. More

USA - Italy, March 2017

The vase “Attic Red-Figure Nolan Amphora, ” a dual-handled vessel dating from 470 B.C. that is valued at $250,000. Credit Manhattan District Attorney's Office

A stolen Etruscan vessel will be returned to Italy thanks in part to the efforts of a hunter of looted antiquities.

Last month, Christos Tsirogiannis, a Greek-born researcher who has spent more than a decade poring over auction and antiquities catalogs trying to identify stolen Greek and Roman artifacts, spotted an Etruscan amphora for sale at a Midtown Manhattan gallery.

Mr. Tsirogiannis, of the Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research in Glasgow, combed through an archive of 13,000 photos and documents seized in 2002 from an Italian antiquities dealer, Gianfranco Becchina, who was convicted in 2011 of trafficking in looted objects. He spotted several photos of the very same vase.  More

Germany - Canada, December 2016

Jan Porcellis (1584-1632), Ships in Distress on a Stormy Sea. Photo: Max and Iris Stern Foundation.

Two valuable paintings of former Dutch masters, despoiled by the Nazis in the late 1930s, were returned to the beneficiaries of a German Jewish art dealer exiled to Canada.

The paintings, "Ships in Distress on a Stormy Sea," by the marine artist Jan Porcellis (1584-1632), and "Landscape with Goats" by the animal painter Willem Buytewech the Younger (1625-1670), were recovered from an auction in Germany, which facilitated their restitution.

They were presented to the Max-Stern Foundation and its three beneficiary institutions, Concordia and McGill universities in Montreal and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. More

Germany - Iraq, January 2016

© Yu Zhang/ICOM

Germany returned to the Republic of Iraq a Sumerian clay cuneiform tablet on 14 January 2016. It dates from 2049 B.C. and records the distribution of flour to the crew of a ship. The tablet was offered in an online auction, in violation of the ban on trade with Iraqi cultural property in the EU, and seized by a criminal police office in the State of Schleswig-Holstein. More

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