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Stolen statue of Apollo returned to Greece

More on the return of a looted statue recovered in Switzerland [1] to Greece.

Middle East Times [2]

Greece reclaims stolen Apollo statue
June 14, 2007

ATHENS — Greece Thursday presented a Hellenistic-era torso of the ancient Greek god Apollo discovered in Switzerland more than 15 years after it was stolen from an excavation site on Crete.

The headless torso was in the possession of art dealer David Cahn in Basel, and the Greek authorities intervened just before it was delivered to a private buyer, culture minister George Voulgarakis told a news conference.

“This is the first result of cooperation between our two countries on cultural heritage protection,” the minister said. “You will see more [examples] in the coming period.”

Greece and Switzerland last month agreed to cooperate on combating the illegal traffic of antiquities and other cultural items.

“This deal was a particularly success, as Switzerland is a country of trade and transit of cultural goods,” Voulgarakis said.

The 1st-century BCE statue of Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light and music, was stolen from the archaeological site of Gortyn in 1991 along with nine Roman-era items including vessel fragments and coins.

In March, it was sold by a British art dealer to a German collector and imported into Switzerland for delivery by Cahn, who agreed to unconditionally hand it over to Greece, the ministry said.

The statue had been discovered in the late 19th century by Italian archaeologist Federico Halberr outside the temple of Apollo at Gortyn, which was the regional capital of Crete and Cyrenaica in Roman times.

It is believed to be a copy of the Lycian Apollo, a 4th century BCE statue that stood at the Lyceum of Athens.

A country of rich archaeological tradition targeted by relic hunters for centuries, Greece has spent years trying to reclaim ancient artifacts illegally removed from its borders.

After decades of fruitless effort, the Greek authorities have recently scored some successes, reclaiming four ancient masterpieces from the Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Museum and two marble decorative fragments from the Athens Acropolis.