It ain’t easy selling antiquities. Just ask Rupert Wace who was surprised by a search warrant and the seizure of a Persian stone relief at TEFAF late last week. According to the New York Times, a clutch of NYPD officers and NY prosecutors appeared at the Friday preview:
To the consternation of several art dealers looking on, the police and prosecutors seized an ancient limestone bas-relief of a Persian soldier with shield and spear, which once adorned a building in the ruins of Persepolis in Iran, according to a search warrant. The relief is worth about $1.2 million and was being offered for sale by Rupert Wace, a well-known dealer in antiquities in London. In an statement, Mr. Wace said he had bought the relief from an insurance company, who had acquired it legally from a museum in Montreal, where it had been displayed since the 1950s. “This work of art has been well known to scholars and has a history that spans almost 70 years,” Mr. Wace said in an email. “We are simply flabbergasted at what has occurred.”
The Times goes on to detail the provenance of the work which had been stolen from a museum before it wound up in the possession of the insurance company. The claims are related to cultural property, not the recent theft.
Ancient Limestone Relief Is Seized at European Art Fair (The New York Times)