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Looted from Turkiye, US authorities seize Marcus Aurelius statue in Ohio Museum

September 1, 2023 at 3:52 pm

Roman Art, Replica of the equestian statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD), Antonine dynasty, The original is in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, Italy. [Photo by Prisma/UIG/Getty Images]

A headless bronze statue, believed to portray the Roman statesman, Marcus Aurelius, and suspected to have been looted from Turkiye, has been confiscated by US authorities in an Ohio museum, according to a report Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.

The New York Times reported that the statue is currently not on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as it was seized earlier this month under a warrant issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

The office revealed, on Thursday, that the confiscation is linked to an “ongoing criminal investigation into a smuggling network involving antiquities looted from Turkiye and trafficked through Manhattan.”

According to the Times, investigators from New York assessed the headless statue’s value at $20 million, and estimated its age to be around 1,800 years.

Turkish authorities have communicated to the Cleveland Museum that the statue, standing at 6 feet 4 inches tall without its head, was reported stolen during the 1960s from an archaeological site in Bubon, located in south-western Turkiye.

However, the Museum has reportedly rebuffed these assertions, contending that Turkiye lacks concrete evidence of the theft, said the Times.

“The enduring dispute surrounding this matter has kept Marcus Aurelius separated from his hometown for far too long,” Zeynep Boz, the head of the Department for Combating Illicit Trafficking at the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, told the Times in a statement.

The statue is scheduled to be transported to New York in September.

READ: Turkiye announces repatriation of 12 antiquities from the US