Smuggled antiquities to be returned to Turkey after New York ceremony

Smuggled antiquities to be returned to Turkey after New York ceremony
2 min read
22 January, 2022
Twenty-eight ancient artefacts which were illegally smuggled out of Turkey will be returned to the country following a ceremony in New York.
Many of the returned items came from the illegal collection of US billionaire Michael Steinhardt [Getty]

Turkey’s Consulate General in New York took possession of 28 Turkish cultural artefacts on Friday which had been seized by US authorities the Anadolu news agency reported.

Of the 28 artefacts handed over, 16 came from the collection of US billionaire Michael Steinhardt, who recently fell foul of the US authorities for illegally purchasing antiques

The artefacts will now be returned to Turkey.

They were handed over to Turkish Consul General in New York Reyhan Ozgur, by a representative from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, at a ceremony at the Turkey Centre. 

The returned items represented a treasure trove of ancient artefacts, including 12 coins, a stag’s head rhyton drinking vessel, a 6,000-year-old Kilia idol, and a mother goddess idol from the Neolithic period.

The handover in New York follows anti-smuggling efforts by Turkey, which last month announced that it had recovered 3,480 cultural assets in 2021. 

The return of smuggled artefacts to Turkey is sometimes complicated by the need to work with multiple foreign law enforcement and judicial authorities.

Smuggling antiquities out of Turkey has been illegal since the modern state's founding in 1923. 

In August 2021, Turkish authorities arrested 78 suspected members of a smuggling operation and seized over 23,000 artefacts in raids. 

The items recovered in New York will be displayed in Turkish museums following their return to the country.