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Every day, somewhere in the world, an archeological site is looted, often with an eye to find antiquities to sell in the big money market for Ancient Art. This program weaves a mystery story of one work of ancient Egyptian art, looted and smuggled from Egypt, shipped through Europe and eventually sold in the United States. Based on a six-month investigation of New York Times reporters Martin Gottlieb and Barry Meier, Stolen Treasures explores how this object passed through the shadowy world of the antiquities underground. As the story is told, we meet some of the world’s most notorious smugglers and learn how easily looted art can be had for a price.
In 1994, workers in the Nile river town of Akhmim – one of the oldest cities in Egypt – unearthed ancient relics while digging the foundation for a multi-story building. One of the relics was a precious funeral stele, or headstone, dating from 600 BC. By law, a discovery like this must be reported to Egyptian authorities for study and proper excavation. But knowing that would shut down their project, the builders instead turned to one of Egypt’s most infamous antiquities smugglers.
To get the precious antiquity out of Egypt, this smuggler turned to British art restorer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry, who has made several trips to Egypt over the years to smuggle artifacts out of the country in his luggage.
In order to find a buyer for these objects, Tokeley-Parry needed a fence to market and sell them. He found a co-conspirator in New York dealer Frederick Schultz. Schultz would send Tokeley money to buy antiquities in Egypt, which Schultz would then sell from his posh gallery in midtown Manhattan.
But just as the two men were set to smuggle out the funeral stele from Akhmim, Scotland Yard got word of Tokeley-Parry’s antics and closed in on him. Tokeley-Parry was convicted of illegal smuggling and sentenced to six years in prison. Frederick Schultz faced a jury in New York and was ...