Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Operation Phoenix: The Geneva Link

The Italian authorities revealed more than the Medieval Frescoes seized on Schinoussa from "the home of Greek shipping heiress Despoina Papadimitriou. She is the sister of the late Christo Michailidis, a London-based art dealer who supplied Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities to the Getty" ("Italy recovers lost Byzantine frescos from Greece", AP, May 19, 2009 [link]). (For an antiquity presented to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in memory of Michailidis see here.)

But these were not the only pieces on display:
Police also showed off some of the 251 artifacts, worth a total of some €2 million, discovered as part of another investigation, dubbed Operation Phoenix, into looted antiquities found in Switzerland.

The goods were handed over to Italian authorities by two Lebanese brothers who operated a Geneva antiquities gallery. Police said they hoped that such a gesture would be repeated by anyone who had illicit antiquities in their possession.

It does not say when these antiquities were seized or provide the names of the two Lebanese brothers in Geneva. (See also the report by Adam L. Freeman, "Swiss Gallery Surrenders EU2 Million in Antiquities to Italy", in Bloomberg, May 19, 2009.)

I can only find mention of a Swiss-Italian raid on a Geneva warehouse back in 2001 that included less than 100 terracotta items (mostly pots) reportedly found in Italy.

3 comments:

David Gill said...

The press release from MiBAC is now available: "Archeologia: diminuiscono gli scavi clandestini", May 20, 2009.

S said...

Two brothers in Geneva? $2.7 million?
The Aboutaam brothers!!

Kimbell negotiating refund for $2.7 million statue, Fort Worth Star-Telegram August 17, 2001

David Gill said...

Dear S
This is your speculation - this identification has not been provided by the Italian authorities.
Best wishes
David

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