GERMANY/TURKEY: stolen artefacts from Turkish museum on sale at German auction


Roman marble, 96 x 82 x 17 cm; emperor and nike. The Nike’s dress and hair still shows traces of yellow colour, and the emperor’s coat is still red.

One of the artifacts stolen from the Kocaeli Archaeology Museum in 2009 has been found at an auction in Germany. The Culture and Tourism Ministry reported theft of the Roman-era colour marble relief, which is valued at around 32,000 euros in the auction, to Interpol. Following the illegal excavations there, the Kocaeli Archaeology Museum initiated excavations in İzmit’s Çukurbağ neighbourhood, estimated to be the centre of the ancient city of Nicomedia.

Excavations in the field unearthed a number of Roman-era sculptures and reliefs, which were then included in the museum collection and kept in storage. But the inventory taken after two years revealed that one Roman-era bust and one colour relief panel were not in the museum storage. The Culture and Tourism Ministry opened an investigation in 2012, which led to accusations against a watchman in the excavation field. The museum director of the time was also discharged. Turkey later informed Interpol about the lost artefacts and in 2013, German police informed Turkish officials that the artefacts had been put up for sale by the Sixbid auction house in Germany. The artefacts had been put up for sale on the Internet, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry applied to the auction house to return the artefacts.

The online sale was cancelled but the auction company did not accept that the artefacts were stolen. In a written statement, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said talks about the artifacts were still ongoing and added that it would take further steps if there was no positive result.

This article was copied from

See also the article on Kocaeli Barış Gazetesi.

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