NEW YORK – A prominent New York antiquities dealer accused of selling stolen artifacts from international smugglers by creating sham documents to hide their history in a scheme that prosecutors said dates back to 1999.
Nancy Wiener was Wednesday arrested on suspicion of criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Prosecutors said that she and a number of co-conspirators are trafficking in illegal antiquities since at least 1999.
“(The) defendant used the money laundering of a process that included restoration services to hide the damage caused by illegal excavations, straw purchases at auction houses to create a sham property history, and the creation of false origin to predate international laws of heritage, a ban on the export of looted antiquities,” according to the complaint in Manhattan criminal court.
Her lawyer, Georges Lederman, told The New York Times http://nyti.ms/2hVapLY ) his client “voluntarily surrendered.” “We are now investigating the charges and will respond at the right time,” Lederman added.
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Wiener and her mother, who died in 2011, are well-known dealers of Indian and Southeast Asian art in New York for decades. A number of their most important clients are Jacqueline Kennedy, John D. Rockefeller III and Igor Stravinsky.
When Wiener’s mother died, prosecutors said that she inherited hundreds of illegal items in their gallery and charged with false ownership history. They are referenced 360, many to Christie’s, which auctioned them off for $12.8 million.
In another example, the public prosecutor said Wiener purchased with a stolen bronze Buddha of south east Asia and was a restaurateur clear spade marks and other signs of plunder before it is displayed in her gallery, where the authorities seized during a raid in March.