New York officials seize $5mln Bronze statue looted from Turkey
The seizure is part of an active criminal investigation focused on a smuggling network trafficking antiquities looted from Turkey and passing through Manhattan.
Officials from the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York have seized an Ancient Roman statue, known as the "Portrait of a Lady (A Daughter of Marcus Aurelius?)," from the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. The Museum voluntarily surrendered the statue, valued at $5 million, after obtaining new information about its ownership history, The Art Newspaper reported.
This marks the second instance where an artifact dating from the second century AD has been removed from an institution outside New York by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's Antiquities Trafficking Unit. In August, the team confiscated a statue believed to depict Marcus Aurelius (valued at $20 million) from the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio.
The headless bronze statue is scheduled to be transported to New York later this month.
These seizures in Massachusetts and Ohio are connected to an active criminal investigation focused on a smuggling network engaged in trafficking antiquities looted from Turkey and passing through Manhattan, according to a statement from the DA's office.
The Worcester Art Museum maintained that it had not received any claims regarding the statue's provenance before being served with a warrant in June. Following the discovery of new evidence, the Museum's staff concluded that the bronze was likely stolen and imported without proper authorization. The Museum emphasized that it now conducts more rigorous due diligence when acquiring objects and adheres to modern ethical standards for managing its collection.
The "Portrait of a Lady" comprises two parts—the head and the draped shoulders—presumably created by different sculptors and combined in antiquity to create a single bust. It is believed to have been looted from a significant family shrine and represents a life-sized depiction, possibly of a daughter of either Marcus Aurelius or Septimius Severus.
In addition to the seizures in Massachusetts and Ohio, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit also confiscated another artifact suspected of being looted from Turkey, the "Young Caracalla Head," from the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Art in the Bronx. This sculpture portrays the Roman emperor Caracalla from the third century AD and is valued at $750,000.
Under the leadership of Alvin Bragg, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit has reportedly overseen the return of thousands of pieces, collectively valued at over $240 million, to numerous countries.