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Corinth Loot Found Under Fresh Fish Volume 52 Number 6, November/December 1999
by Kristin M. Romey

More than 250 artifacts stolen from the Museum of Ancient Corinth have been recovered from a warehouse in Miami, Florida, Greek authorities and the FBI report. The artifacts were stolen in 1990, when thieves gained entrance to the museum and assaulted the lone night watchman (see "The Looting of Corinth A.D. 1990," July/August 1990).

Among the artifacts found wrapped in plastic and hidden in crates of fresh fish were a fifth-century B.C. kouros head, 164 varied pouring vessels, and a small marble statue of Pan. A marble bust of Julius Caesar and carved marble heads of Eros and the Ptolemaic god Serapis are still missing.

Jerome Eisenberg, an antiquities dealer with the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York and London, has been connected with the case, according to the Greek newspaper Ta Nea. In a letter to the newspaper protesting his alleged association, Eisenberg admits attempting to sell three vases from the Corinth museum which were purchased from a "large auction firm" in New York. He states that he was unaware of their provenience, even though an article on the heist and photographs of 19 of the stolen objects appeared in the September 1990 issue of Minerva, an art and antiquities magazine of which Eisenberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief. After a professor at Oxford University informed him in 1998 that the vases looked very similar to those stolen from the museum, Eisenberg contacted the FBI, who, according to his letter, "were able to regain another three vases which had been sent to the auction house by the same person in Miami."

Ta Nea also reports that Greek authorities were tipped off to the Miami warehouse location by Dimitris Mavrikis, who was imprisioned in 1994 for illegal wiretapping on behalf of then-Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis. During his 1990-1993 term, Mitsotakis fell under heavy criticism for his large antiquities collection, nearly all of which lacked provenience.

Special Agent Jim Margolen of the FBI's New York office would not comment on the recovery of the artifacts, noting that the investigation is ongoing. "Our objective is to recover all of the stolen artifacts and charge at least one person with the theft," he added. The Miami Herald, in a recent article on how south Florida has become a center for art and antiquities smuggling, quotes a spokesman for the Greek Embassy in Washington as saying: "[The police in Greece] are preparing a case for the judicial system. Apparently they know who did it.... [The theft] was one of the major crimes against our cultural heritage."

© 1999 by the Archaeological Institute of America