In Spain, family trafficking in antiquities dismantled

Madrid. Seventy-one archaeological pieces were seized after the discovery of the activities of a group of ten fences working between Andalusia and Barcelona, ​​five of them having been arrested by the Spanish police at the end of January in Granada and a sixth in Barcelona, while the other four are still on the run. Highly valuable antiquities, such as capitals from the Nasrid and Caliphate periods, pedestals, columns, plaster arches, Islamic beams, a fragment of an arrocabus, an Arab funerary stele and several sculptures are among the items seized.

The group, made up of the same family from Granada, claimed to have inherited the antique objects from a relative who worked on the Alhambra site two centuries ago. This apparent seniority, attested by false invoices and fraudulent notarial documents, allowed them to escape the Spanish law of 1985 on historical heritage, which orders that all “movable or immovable property of a historical nature, capable of being studied with an archaeological methodology, whether or not they have been extracted and whether they are on the surface or in the subsoil, in the territorial sea or on the continental platform » are in the public domain and cannot therefore be placed on the market.

Confident in their false documents, the receivers offered their objects for sale in 2021 at Feriarte, a major annual meeting of the antiques market in Madrid, on the stand of a Barcelona gallery specializing in archeology run by one of the group members. A check by the historical heritage police brigade carried out during the fair was enough to open an investigation against them. The seized objects are now kept in the archaeological museums of Madrid and Granada, as well as the Museum of Prehistory in Valencia, Spain. The institutions estimate their total value on the legal market at 400,000 euros.

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