Twenty-nine Greek antiquities, products of contraband from Macedonia, Epirus, central Greece, the Cyclades and Crete, that ended up in the USA, through the criminal networks of illicit trafficking of cultural goods, were handed over by the Manhattan prosecutor’s Office to the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, to return to the land of birth, the place and the people who created them.

Marble and bronze figurines of humans and animals, marble, silver, bronze and earthenware vessels, gold and bronze jewelry, a mural section, which were in Shelby White’s collection, as well as a very rare gold coin, which refers to the Ides of March, the day of the assassination of Julius Caesar, confiscated at an auction house, are among them. These antiquities cover a wide chronological range from prehistoric to Roman times.

The items were recovered by actions of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and in particular Attorney General Alvin Bragg, The New York Homeland Security Agency and the person responsible Ivan J. Arvelo, of Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos and his associates. The Ministry of documentation and protection cooperated -in this case too-with the Public Prosecutor’s office, providing the archaeological documentation and all available information to facilitate its work.

During the ceremony, Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni said: “the great successes that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has achieved in recent years in the fight against antiquities has led to the repatriation of hundreds of illegally trafficked antiquities to their countries of origin, including Greece. Once again, Matthew Bogdanos and his team worked closely with the Ministry of Culture, the competent Directorate of which provided the archaeological documentation and all available information, in order to facilitate the work of the prosecutor’s office. On behalf of the Hellenic Republic, I would like to thank them from my heart and congratulate everyone for their contribution to the investigation and ultimately the successful conclusion of this case. They succeeded in attacking the illegal international criminal networks, whose actions alter the identity of the peoples, as they cut off archaeological finds from their context and turn them from evidence of the history of the peoples, into mere works of art. Greece, a country that over time has been hit hard by the anti-looting activity, has as a first priority the restoration of its cultural heritage, seeking every alliance in this direction. The relationship of trust and the close cooperation that has developed between the executives of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the Greek Ministry of Culture fills us with confidence that many more successes will follow.”

Department of Homeland Security Director Ivan J. Arvelo stated that ” antiquities trafficking is a multibillion-dollar business with thieves and smugglers making profits at the expense of cultural heritage. Greece, recognized as the cradle of Western civilization, is particularly vulnerable to this type of criminal activity. These precious works of Art date back to 5,000 BC. they formed an important part of the life of the ancient world. It is our honor that with our partners we are today repatriating this precious cultural heritage to the Greek people.”

New York Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos, referring to the daily efforts he and his colleagues make to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural goods, noted: “the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni placed two excellent members in our team, Ladies Papageorgiou and Vlachogiannis. We all work together, long hours, through the night, and on weekends as a family, as a good Greek family, and we passionately discuss what the next goal will be because we all share the same vision. To return cultural heritage to where it was born and belongs. When archaeologists and other scientists study these ancient artifacts and wonder how they were found, this particular group will work together, as one man, towards the next goal. It is fair that this team celebrates today.”

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