An international crime ring is caught, just like in the movies
The Short Version
Spanish officials announced that they had arrested 75 people who were part of a ring of art thieves. The thieves had stolen over 3,500 pieces of art, many of which had come from countries currently at war. Several different agencies were involved in breaking the ring that had been active all over Europe for several years.
A Little More Detail
Spanish officials are just now letting the world know about a series of arrests that occurred back in November of last year, effectively breaking up a major art theft and trafficking ring that had been active all across Europe. 75 people were arrested and charged with involvement in the ring and over 3,500 pieces of art were recovered. Some of the art had been stolen from museums while others had been looted from countries at war.
This was no small undertaking. The case was known as “Pandora” and not only involved Spanish police, but InterPol, EuroPol, and Unesco, as well as officials from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. Can you imagine all the coordination and effort it took to keep all those different government entities working together? Spanish police should receive some kind of commendation just for organizing the whole thing.
The operation was apparently centered in Murcia, Spain, where some 500 artifacts were retrieved, including 19 pieces stolen from that city’s archeological museum in 2014. One link led to another. Over 48,000 people were interviewed as part of the Pandora project. Archeological pieces were tracked through sales around the globe, many of those sales occurring through online facilities such as ebay.com.
While officials said the Pandora investigation is now closed, UNESCO announced that 92 additional investigations have been opened as a result of the Pandora project. We’re thinking this whole thing is just begging to be made into a movie. Interested, Mr. Spielberg?
What’s the take away in all this? Don’t buy antiquities and art pieces online, dumbass. Buyers are responsible for doing appropriate due diligence before purchasing such work. The number of looted artifacts has exploded with the various wars in the Middle East. If you’re in the market, work only through a reputable art dealer and avoid online purchases.