Antiquities were recently seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the Manhattan District Attorney’s as part of a larger effort to return artifacts to their countries of origin.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has so far obtained six warrants to seize artifacts from the Met this year. In mid-July, alongside federal agents, New York authorities seized 21 allegedly looted artifacts valued in excess of $11 million.
Among the more valuable artifacts confiscated as part of the effort was a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena dating from around 200 BCE. Two statues depicting the mythical Greek brothers Castor and Pollux believed to have been produced during the Roman Empire were also seized, according to public documents obtained by the International Center of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). It is the largest seizure of objects at the Met to date.
New York’s ramped-up efforts targeting stolen antiquities housed by major museums has spurred some debate among experts. Some have claimed that the objects being seized by the DA’s office are not always high-quality and that officials taking them have unfairly made the seizures into a PR opportunity.