Yesterday, Italy’s La Stampa reported solid evidence of illicit traffic in antiquities from Libya in exchange for illegal arms shipments. The Daily Beast followed up with more color:
Monday, Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano confirmed La Stampa’s reporting, adding that the Italian government is acutely aware that the illegal ring of art for arms funds Jihadist terrorism in nearby Libya. “We have studied the ‘GDP of terror’ and we know that one of the components is the commercialization of stolen art,” he told reporters. “The stolen artifacts feed ISIS and contribute to the GDP of terror.” […] According to Italy’s patrimony police, the bulk of the loot stolen from Libya ends up in private collections in Russia, China and Japan. Quirico was told that if he didn’t buy the marble statue head, it would go to someone in the United Arab Emirates, who had been looking for just such a piece. […]
According to art historian and journalist Luca Nannipieri, whose book The Art of Terror was released in Italy last week, much of the looted art sold by the so-called Islamic state ends up in museums, universities and foundations after it has been effectively ‘laundered’ and given false provenance documents that allow it to legally enter the mainstream market.