US returns 10 antiquities to Egypt amid investigation into 'Dib-Simonian' trafficking network

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said the 10 ancient items were valued at $1.4 million, and that since 2022 his office has returned 27 pieces to Egypt.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg released images of antiquities returned to Egypt amid a trafficking investigation.
Posted at 3:14 PM, May 02, 2024

U.S. officials have returned 10 pieces of antiquity to Egypt, together valued at $1.4 million.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the items were recovered amid an investigation into the "Dib-Simonian" trafficking network, and said the return of the items "to the people of Egypt" would be facilitated after a repatriation ceremony with Ambassador Howaida Essam, the Consul General of Egypt in New York.

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Ambassador Howaida Essam said of the U.S. investigation, "I am confident that our future cooperation will result in the repatriation of other national treasures that have been illegally smuggled out of Egypt."

Art publications have reported on the infamous network after arrest warrants were issued for multiple German-based dealers including Roben Dib, a gallery owner who was awaiting trial in Paris in 2022 on charges of money laundering and fraud. Art dealer Serop Simonian and two of his children were thought by European investigators to have played a key role in selling various antiquities to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, Art News reported.

France's LeMonde newspaperreported that the Simonians operate their enterprise from a luxury building in the Oberstrasse neighborhood in Hamburg, Germany.

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DA Bragg's office said since 2022 at least 27 pieces of antiquity have been returned to Egypt, with a collective value of over $6.5 million.

In 2022 officials said a round of 16 antiquities then valued at more than $4 million was returned to the Egyptian authorities amid their Dib-Simonian trafficking network probe and a multinational investigation into prominent ancient art collector Michael Steinhardt in which 180 stolen antiquities were seized with a total value of $70 million.

That same year authorities said Michael Steinhardt was involved in a case in which dozens of antiquities were returned to Italy by U.S. authorities. In that case, 58 artifacts were returned with a total value of nearly $19 million.