The NYTimes gives voice to some of the frustrated galleries who feel they’re being unfairly treated in the seizures of suspected antiquities:
“Why are they not approaching these galleries instead of treating them like criminals trying to do something underhanded,” he said. The items seized this week were all publicized by their vendors online and in catalogs, he said, not sneaked “in to be sold in some smoky back room.”
The seizures are part of Operation Hidden Idol, a nine-year investigation into antiquities smuggling that officials say has netted more than 2,600 items and reams of data about illicit trafficking. Typically, the authorities say, the smugglers create false paperwork to certify an object was acquired lawfully, often fooling purchasers and other dealers down the line.
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, said the raids ensured that items could be confiscated and that alerting dealers beforehand might send the objects underground. Many seized items have been returned to their countries of origin.
Law Enforcement Focuses on Asia Week in Inquiry of Antiquities Smuggling (The New York Times)