Manhattan District Attorney Returns Ancient Sarcophagus to Greek Consulate

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos, on Friday will deliver to Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Constantine Koutras, an ancient marble sarcophagus illegally exported from Greece.

According to a National Herald report, the Roman sarcophagus that depicts scenes from the Trojan War, was seized by the Manhattan DA from Royal-Athena Galleries.

The Consul General told the National Herald that he is honored to represent the Hellenic Republic by signing the protocol to receive the sarcophagus and initiate the repatriation process.

Koutras emphasized that “the return of the sarcophagus is a big and significant step in the efforts of Greece and Hellenism worldwide for the return of the Parthenon Marbles and all other Greek antiquities illegally detained in galleries and museums abroad.

At the same time, the consul general expressed his gratitude to District Attorneys Vance and Bogdanos who not only seized the sarcophagus, but will deliver it in the presence of U.S. media including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as television networks.

It should be noted that Bogdanos, who is of Greek origin, is also an author and a colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He is a historical treasure hunter and played a significant role in the rescue of the Baghdad museum treasures.

In August 2014, Bogdanos handed to the then ambassador of Greece in Washington Christos Panagopoulos five antiquities that were repatriated and now exhibited at the Numismatic Museum of Athens.

The discovery of the illegally obtained sarcophagus in the antiquities market was made by Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, a Senior Archaeologist at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and forensic archaeologist researching antiquities smuggling networks and the market for looted cultural objects.

Tsirogiannis located the antiquity at the New York gallery. He discovered that the ancient object came from the illegal collection of Italian antiquities smuggler Gianfranco Becchina, and was seized by Italian and Swiss authorities. He then proceeded to notify  Interpol and the Manhattan DA office.