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King Croesus’s stolen brooch to be returned home to Turkey 26 novembre 2012

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Guardian (UK) Monday, November 26, 2012, p. 22

Constanze Letsch in Istanbul

For thousands of years it lay underground, part of the buried treasure of the legendarily wealthy King Croesus. But since being illegally excavated in the 1960s, it has been stolen, replaced by a fake, sold to pay off gambling debts and has allegedly brought down a curse on its plunderers.

Now the 2,500-year-old golden brooch is to be returned to Turkey, where it will be given a special place in a new national museum. The culture minister, Ertugrul Gunay, has announced that German officials have agreed to return the artefact, a brooch in the form of a winged seahorse.

The brooch is part of the Lydian Hoard, known in Turkey as the Karun Treasure, which was looted from iron-age burial mounds in western Turkey in 1965. The artefacts were sold on, eventually to be exhibited in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1980s.

After a six-year legal battle that reportedly cost Turkey pounds 25m, it was repatriated in 1993 and went on display in the Usak museum. But in 2006, after a tipoff, the brooch on show was discovered to be a fake, with the original missing again.

After an investigation the director of the museum, Kazim Akbiyikoglu, was arrested with 10 others. Akbiyikoglu admitted selling museum treasures to pay off gambling debts and was jailed for 13 years. He blamed his misfortune on an ancient curse said to afflict those who handle the treasure. Popular rumour has it that all seven men involved in the illegal digs of the burial mounds died violent deaths or suffered great misfortune.

Although the details of the brooch’s latest recovery are unclear, Turkish officials are delighted. « I am very happy to hear that the piece will finally return home, » said a culture and tourism official, Serif Ariturk, who is responsible for the museum in Usak. « Since I was in office in 2005 and 2006 I felt personally responsible for the theft. »

Turkey has recently launched what some call « an art war » to repatriate antiquities that it says were stolen and smuggled out of the country illegally. According to official numbers, 885 artefacts were returned in 2011 alone.

Critics argue that foreign museums helped to preserve countless historical treasures from destruction or theft.

The Archaeological Museum in Usak is only able to display 2,000 of its 41,600 historical objects. A larger museum is being built to house the 450 pieces of the Lydian collection in its entirety. With the retrieval of the hippocamp brooch, Ariturk hopes the curse has been lifted. « Once it returns home, I am sure tourists and those that appreciate history and art will follow. »

Commentaires»

1. Ayset - 27 novembre 2012

Well done Türkiye


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