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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

US's Met Museum To Examine Stolen Art Pieces, Return Them To Countries

US's Met Museum To Examine Stolen Art Pieces, Return Them To Countries

The move comes as Manhattan prosecutors work to repatriate hundreds of artifacts worth millions of dollars to dozens of countries across the world.
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art said Wednesday it would examine the provenance of "several hundred or more" objects that were possibly stolen from their country of origin, and then return them where necessary.

The move comes as Manhattan prosecutors work to repatriate hundreds of artifacts worth millions of dollars to dozens of countries across the world.

The Met will hire additional "provenance" researchers to study some of the museum's 1.5 million works of art, director Max Hollein told staff in a letter published on the institution's website.

"We will broaden, expedite, and intensify our research into all works that came to the museum from art dealers who have been under investigation," he wrote.

Hollein said most of the suspect pieces were acquired between 1970 and 1990, "when there was less information available and less scrutiny on the provenance of many of these works."

The Met has been cited in court cases related to stolen works.

On Tuesday, the Manhattan district attorney returned to China two 7th-century stone carvings worth $3.5 million that were smuggled out of the country in the early 1990s.

Authorities had earlier this year seized the artifacts from the Met, where they had been since 1998.

The carvings were among 89 antiquities from 10 different countries purchased by Shelby White, a private art collector in New York and Met trustee.

Since January 2022, the DA has returned more than 950 antiquities worth over $165 million to 19 countries.

"The Met has a longstanding history in the rigorous review of our collection and, when appropriate, the return of art," said Hollein, citing returns to Egypt, Greece, Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, Turkey, and India.
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