FBI repatriates smuggled artefacts, artworks and other objects to Peru

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Unknown artist, The Pentecost (17th century). Twitter/FBI Los Angeles.

Among the returned objects there are artifacts from the collection of amateur archaeologist Donald Miller. He was the subject of a high-profile raid in 2014.

The FBI has repatriated 16 Peruvian artifacts, works of art and historical documents to the Peruvian government. The find includes three stone axes from the collection of Donald Miller, an “amateur archaeologist” whose collection of 40,000 pieces of indigenous and South American artifacts was the subject of a high-profile raid in 2014.

A 16th-century painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe  is also among the returned artworks.The painting was stolen from a church in Ollantaytambo in 2002. Later it was smuggled into the US by an unknown Bolivian art dealer. The painting is one of six missing works stolen from the church. According to an FBI report, in 2016 it was sold through a New Mexico dealer who kept the work in his private collection, and in 2016 it was sold to a collector in California.

Unknown artist, Virgin of Guadalupe (16th century).
Twitter/FBI Los Angeles.

One more work of art returned to Peru dates from the 17th century. The painting is known as Pentecost and was stolen in 1992 along with other paintings from a church in Puna. The work also traveled around New Mexico before being bought by a California collector for $15,000 in 2009, although it is not clear if the incidents are related.

Ten historical Peruvian documents were also found and repatriated, including military and naval certificates. Officials have been alerted to the sale of documents on eBay and have interviewed a Florida seller who claims to have bought the documents from a street market in Peru. The seller is not prosecuted.

Kristy K. Johnson, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, during a repatriation ceremony at Headquarters. On April 22, stated that all of these objects followed an opaque route to the US and now have a direct route to Peru through proper diplomatic channels. She added that the Peruvian people could properly contemplate these objects and take care of them, and not dictate their fate to the whims of people who remove them for personal gain and self-interest.

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