Wednesday, February 3, 2016


HUNDREDS of looted antiquities, including mosaics from Pompeii and ancient sarcophagi, have been uncovered in Switzerland.

Italian specialist art theft police uncovered 45 large crates of "priceless" archaeological treasures in a storage unit in Geneva.

They were being stored under a false name, police confirmed, but are thought to belong to London art dealer Robin Symes.

According to Il Messagger, Italian police were able to convince a Swiss judge that the relics were stolen as some of artefacts were allegedly already on a blacklist.

Photographs of them had been among thousands found in the possession of an Italian policeman, found dead in mysterious circumstances in 1995 while under investigation for art trafficking.

The treasures found in Geneva included classical sculptures, Roman frescos, and sarcophagi, as well thousands of fragments of an entire wall of an Etruscan temple, the Italian newspaper reported.

A spokesman from the Rome Carabinieri's specialist artistic heritage squad, who hunt tomb raiders and smugglers, confirmed the operation in Geneva took place last week.

The police became interested in the Swiss deposit while on the trail of a missing very rare piece, called Sarcophagus of the Spouses, which resembles one in the Louvre.

Symes, London's most successful art dealer, was accused of being part of an international network of tomb raiders and dealers who spirited antiquities worth millions of pounds out of Italy.

Journalist Peter Watson's 2006 book The Medici Conspiracy claimed Symes was an unscrupulous dealer who sold them on to collectors and museums, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The dealer was hugely wealthy and owned houses in London, New York, Athens and the Greek islands as well as a Bentley and a Rolls Royce.

But after his partner Christo Michaelides, a Greek shipping heir, died in 1999, Symes was involved in a bitter legal battle with his family.

In 2003 he was bankrupted, and in 2005, imprisoned for contempt of court for seven months.

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