Millions of dollars of artwork smuggling prevented in Istanbul
ISTANBULPolice have raided a house in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district and seized 55 stolen paintings, lecterns and calligraphic works, valuing at least $20 million.
The Istanbul Police Department Anti-Smuggling Branch teams had been informed that a smuggler, identified only by the initials M.N.K., was planning to smuggle the artifacts abroad and had also tried to sell them to Arab tourists in Istanbul.
Police officers caught M.N.K. after posing as Arab tourists, saying they would sell the paintings to rich customers in London and New York and made a deal of 1 million Turkish Liras for 55 paintings and others.
During bargaining, police teams identified the address where the artifacts were being kept and raided a luxurious home in the suburban Ataşehir district. All the works were seized by the authorities and the suspect was taken into custody.
After the pieces were delivered to a museum, a commission of archaeologists examined them and found that 50 were genuine and only five were fake.
Examinations showed that the 18 paintings were made by the 20th century Turkish painter Nazmi Ziya Güran as well as Armenian and Greek painters from the 18th and 19th centuries.