Spain Returns 700 Artifacts of Stolen Art During Drug Bust

Spain returned 691 artifacts to Columbia. The artifacts include ceramics, vases, necklaces, idols and stamps. They range in age from 1,400 BC to the 16th century AD. The artifacts were seized by Spanish Police during a criminal investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering in 2003. The pieces had been kept for study in Madrid’s Museum of the Americas.

The majority of the pieces stemmed from ancient Columbian cultures such as the Sinú, Inland, Calima, Tumaco and Nariño. However, the collection also featured works from Peru, Panama, and Ecuador. According to the General of the Spanish Police, Ingnacio Cosidó, the Columbian portion of the collection alone is valued at over €5 million ($6.8 million).

At the official handover ceremony in Madrid, the Spanish culture ministry’s director-general of fine arts, archives and libraries, Jesús Prieto called the collection, “A small Columbian museum of archaeology.” The Columbian ambassador in Spain added, “Today is a very special day for Columbia, the arrival of nearly 700 artifacts is one of the most important cultural events of recent history.”

As the origin of many of the pieces has yet to be determined the country’s Ministry of Culture is to decide where the works will be kept once they arrive in Bogotá this summer.

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