The anti-trafficking antiquities unit of the Manhattan prosecutor’s office in New York State, which has only existed for five years, nevertheless boasts the restitution of 4,500 stolen objects in 29 countries. All estimated at a value of 375 million dollars. Their last press release, in September, was pleased to have been able to return 12 objects to Lebanon worth 9 million dollars.
The announcement was, however, not to the taste of one of his colleagues, Christos Tsirogiannis, who criticizes the department for concealing its involvement in the investigation. The unit does not specify that he provided evidence from his 2012 thesis, helping to prove that two Greek statuettes, Castor and Pollux, dated to the 4th century BC and indeed came from Lebanon.
Hunter of looted antiquities, lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Tsirogiannis is an expert who has worked extensively with the unit. A disappointment that he did not fail to express to the Guardianespecially since this is not the first time that such an event has occurred.
He points to an abuse of intellectual property by seeing his name regularly erased from official announcements despite his numerous collaborations. “They present my work as their own”. Alas, Tsirogiannis declares that he has ” enough “ and describes this situation as “shameful”. He believes that the successes of the prosecutor’s office would not be possible without the participation of archeology specialists. In April, he led to the arrest of art dealer Robin Symes, involved in a criminal network of looted works of art.
Now working for UNESCO in the fight against antiquities trafficking, the archaeologist aspires to greater recognition from the New York office. He wanted to be credited during official announcements, yet only remuneration for his help. Since 2007, the expert has helped identify at least 1,600 looted antiquities recorded in museums, private collections, galleries and auction houses by notifying the relevant authorities.