Manhattan D.A. Bragg announces Return of 10 Antiquities to Egypt

Sunday, May 5, 2024
Manhattan D.A. Bragg announces Return of 10 Antiquities to Egypt

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., announced the return of 10 antiquities collectively valued at $1.4 million to Egypt.

Eight of these artifacts were recovered pursuant to the Office’s investigation into the “Dib-Simonian” trafficking network. The 10 objects were returned during a repatriation ceremony with Ambassador Howaida Essam, the Consul General of Egypt in New York. Since 2022 the Office has returned 27 pieces to Egypt, collectively valued at more than $6.5 million.

“Egypt has an incredibly rich cultural history that we will not allow to be diminished by selfish looters and traffickers. I am proud that my Office has successfully returned more than 25 antiquities to Egypt in just over two years, and we look forward to continued work with our partners at HSI to protect cultural heritage all around the globe,” said District Attorney Bragg. 

“I would like to thank all members of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit for the significant role in the investigations that has contributed to the success of the return of these antiquities to their homeland. I am confident that our future cooperation will result in the repatriation of other national treasures that have been illegally smuggled out of Egypt” said Ambassador Howaida Essam.

“Today, we return 10 artifacts to the Republic of Egypt, including at least one that is believed to pre-date the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. These extraordinary pieces, some as small as two inches long, offer a glimpse into a robust world unlike anything that continues to exist,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “HSI New York is honored to have played a part in returning these antiquities to their rightful owners. I thank our law enforcement partners and the Republic of Egypt for their continued unified efforts in identifying and challenging the injustices of years past.”

The information about the Dib-Simonian network was developed and shared by the Manhattan DA’s office with law-enforcement agencies around the world and has led to the indictment or arrest of nine individuals in France, including the former director of the Louvre Museum, as well as the head of the ring, Serop Simonian, who was extradited from Germany and jailed in Paris last fall.

Main Image :The Gilded Wood Coffin Face dates to c. 332-275 B.C.E. and was looted from the Nag el-Hissaya necropolis, a burial site for the priests and officials serving the nearby temple of Horus. The Coffin Face first surfaced in early 2001 in the possession of the Simonians, who, after cutting the face out from the larger coffin headdress, consigned it for sale to Christie’s in New York City. It went unsold at that auction and was returned to Kevork Simonian, a key member of the Dib-Simonian trafficking network, but was subsequently bought and sold by multiple US-based dealers over the next twenty years. It was seized by the Office from the Merrin Gallery in 2023.

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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