Going on a pilgrimage, on a deal? Pilgrim or Mule:
Trafficking Culture: Meet the real looters!
Gallerist, antiquities dealer turned illegal antiques trafficker
Specialty in antiques/artefacts from Italy, Greece, Egypt, Asia
First conviction in Italy in 1967 of receiving looted artefacts. In 1997, Medici was arrested again in Rome for dealing with and receiving stolen goods, illegal export and conspiracy to traffic between Italy, Switzerland and Egypt, Syria, Greece and Asia. Trial commenced on 4Dec2003 in Rome. On 12 May2005, he was found guilty of all charges. The judge declared that Medici had trafficked thousands of artefacts,incl. the sarcophagus fragment that started the investigation, and the Euphronios (Sarpedon) krater.
The sentence was ten years in prison and a €10million fine, with the money going to the Italian state for damage caused to cultural heritage. In July,2009, an appeals court in Rome dismissed the trafficking conviction against him because of the expired limitation period but reaffirmed the convictions for receiving and conspiracy. His jail sentence was reduced to eight years but the fine remained in place.
In 1995, Sotheby’s London informed the Carabinieri that it had been consigned a stolen sarcophagus, revealing Medici’s central position in the organisation of the antiquities trade out of Italy, and the Carabinieri decided to act on the evidence.
Medici developed a triangulating system of consigning through one company and purchasing the same piece through another. This created an artificial demand, suggesting to potential customers that the market was stronger than it actually was. And, secondly, this was a way of providing illegally excavated or -exported pieces with a ‘Sotheby’s’ provenance, and, in effect, laundering them!
He did this via Geneva based Editions Services, Mat Securitas, Arts Franc and Tecafin Fiduciaire and other front companies
and with other major antiquities dealers like Robin Symes, Frieda Tohacos, Nikolas Koutoulakis, Robert Hecht and Ali and Hischam Abontaam.
He is a typical Janus figure – posing as gallerist and specialist antiques dealer in his business front but in reality he is a common criminal as a looter, arts thief, fraudster and midleman of organised crime like trafficking.
His example shows that there is not really any true honest white business element in antiques dealing, as all partners in this trade are sooner or later caught up in the darkness that screams also out of Munch’s and other art that is being looted…
On a more general note, whether it is possible to even make a distinction between a white, grey and black market in antiquities:
It seems to me that it is only a self-serving interest of all the dealers and their Janus archetypal strategies to pretend that there is a white side to ‘the market’. Learning from the likes of Giacomo Medici f.ex., who even triangulated companies to create an artificial demand and got away with it for so long because the auction houses and other dealers were in on it, too, under respectable facades, and often under various business fronts.
Having extensively researched secret dangerous associations and their joint enterprises in a criminology context one can also safely say that a lot of stolen artwork is never found again officially because it is illegally and secretly sold on between freemasons, Templars, and a lot of other Vatican
and Anglican churches directed organisations and societies, who are using their old crusader routes and are very experienced in smokescreens…
And with monasteries and priories worldwide at their disposal they even have an infrastructure of nuns and monks as couriers and skilled thieves, forgers, experts etc. – eventually they pride themselves in having been able to get away with it that all over the places not just bishops and cardinals but also persons of authority and celebrity status boast even from the pulpit or in front of the camera or at a charity event about their notoriety of antiques fraud and theft in a convent at Easter or in Advent.
Some even go as far as to involve innocent friends of an association or of a charitable organisation or from diplomatic backgrounds to act as their unassuming ‘mules’ by giving a disguised artefact in an ordinary envelope or gift-wrap with a family, who travels from their home parish in Boston to another motherhouse convent of their parish sisters in London.
And, on other occasions, references for scholarships abroad are given in exchange for such ‘little favours’ and these kind of hidden dangerous associations can eventually become a partnership-in-crime, when there is also bribery and property involved as a reward for various succesful trips disguised as student home visits and pilgrimages to a shrine…
Sigrid Countess von Galen
NEC LAUDIBUS NEC TIMORE
http://sigridvongalen.tumblr.com (James John Westcott House)
@instcrimjust @CTraumastudies @sigridvongalen