Showing posts with label Ozgen Acar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ozgen Acar. Show all posts

October 20, 2011

Tracking Ozgen Acar's Adventures in the Turkish Press

Journalist Ozgen Acar has crusaded for the return of looted antiquities from Turkey for decades. He recently sent out a link to various articles published in the Turkish daily newspapers "Hurriyet" and "Cumhuriyet" about Ozgen Acar's long mission to bring "Weary Herakles" back to Turkey.

These articles were published on 16 and 17 of September in "Cumhuriyet" and on September 16th in "Hurriyet".

The articles talk about Ozgen's long battle to bring the upper half of the statue back to Turkey. More "Like a Police Mystery Movie-Whodunit"; "Turkish Indiana Jones", "'Weary Herakles' is here and the "old fisherman" is on his way," according to Mr. Acar. "History should stay where it belongs."

Now that the statues of 'Weary Herakles' is displayed in the Antalya Museum, Ozgen Acar is retelling the highlights of his journey to bring the statue back to Turkey. The article talks about the importance of the statue, a replica of the original statue 'Weary Herakles' by Lysippos in the 4th century BC. It symbolizes Herakles after he killed the lion on his 12th mission. He is tired and leaning on a stick covered by the lion's skin. The statue was loved by the Romans and about 50 replicas were made. The original statue is missing.

'Weary Herakles" also has a sarcophagus in Perge. The smugglers tired to take this out of the country in the 1970s but they were not successful. It was unfortunately cut into pieces because it weighed 4 tons. Pieces were caught in a truck in Istanbul and some pieces were later found at the Getty Museum, which later returned them. Other pieces were in a private collection which Ozgen once saw during his visit to see the collection; although the collector denied the history of the pieces at the time, he later returned the pieces. Ozgen also found another sarcophagus that belong to the Perge Excavation in Brooklyn Museum and that too has been returned.

It was in the early 1980s when "Weary Herakles' was discovered on privately owned land between the Necropol (graveyard) and Perge. The owner of the land discovered the statue while illegally excavating on his property and didn't tell the authorities nearby what he had found (he covered it up and took it away with him at night). Mr. Yegenah, according to Ozgen Acar, was the international smuggler who brought the statue to the head of the Museum of Fine Art, Corneleus Vermule III who contacted Leon Levy and Shelby White. They purchased the statue with the museum for $1.5 million and went into the Leon Levy-Shelby White collection. The museum cut a deal that eventually Leon Levy-Shelby White would donate it to the museum.

Ozgen Acar says there will be 'another happy ending' on the "Old Fisherman" statue which he has been working on for its return for years.

October 6, 2011

Top Half of Turkey's Herakles Sent from Boston's MFA to Istanbul in Prime Minister's Private Jet

Özgen Acar publishes an article in one of Turkey's largest newspapers on a subject he's covered for decades.
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

The rumors began last July that Boston's Museum of Fine Arts had agreed to return the top half of 'Weary Herakles' to Turkey, but the official announcement did not come until September and within a few days the Roman marble was enroute to Turkey on the Prime Minister's private jet.

Geoff Edgers, reporter for Boston's Globe, reported from Antalya on July 17th in "Making 'Herakles' whole after all these years" that after 20 years of denials the Boston museum would return the top half of the 1,800 year-old statue to Turkey.  Malcolm Bell, a University of Virginia professor quoted in the article, was also mentioned in "Chasing Aphrodite," the nonfiction book by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino.  Dr. Bell was director of the archaeological site in Morgantina in Sicily from where the 'Aphrodite' statue recently returned from the Getty.

The person who emailed me the link to Edgers' online article was Özgen Acar, the Turkish journalist who has chased down the Lydian Hoard and the Weary Herakles for decades (as featured in Sharon Waxman's book Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World).

I had met Mr. Acar in Ankara in July 2010 and he had given me copies of many of his articles, including "Turkey's War on the Illicit Antiquities Trade" (Archaeology, March/April 1995) and "The Turkish Connection: An Investigative Report on the Smuggling of Classical Antiquities" (Connoisseur, 1990). I asked Mr. Acar via email then for his response which was swift and passionate:
I’m very happy to learn that, following my discovery of the stolen Weary Heracles and related articles in 1990, yet another part of Turkey's historical heritage will be returned to Turkey. 
When my story was first published by Connoisseur Magazine, Cornelius Vermeule III [curator at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts], had made fun of me in his interview in the New York Times
He had said, "How can a statue have two navels?" 
He also said, that there were many Roman copies of the same type of Weary Heracles.
He added that the upper section was in the market in the mid 1950’s.
He lied twice.
 A) He had come to see the bottom piece in Antalya as a tourist; he knew the both pieces very well.
 B) He knew that the upper part had been brought to the Shelby White and Leon Levy couple in the early 1980’s.
I am not an archeologist but an investigative journalist. As the result of my investigation for many years, “The Lydian Hoard” (King Croesus Treasure), “The Elmali Hoard” (The Hoard of the Century) and many treasures were returned to Turkey.
Foreign collectors and museum officials have to respect the historical, cultural and religious heritage of every country. They belong, not only to Turkey, but to all mankind. History is beautiful where it belongs.
Mr. Acar has written about the theft of illicit antiquities out of Turkey for decades, identifying routes, naming individuals involved in the transactions, and how items were shipped and sold, including tying operators with Robert Hecht, an American antiquities dealer on trial in Italy on charges of conspiring to traffic in looted artifacts (associated with the sale of the Euphronios krater to the Met which was returned to Italy in 2009).

In 1995, Acar wrote of the archaeological museum in Antalya on Turkey's Mediterranean coast which had on display the lower half of the statue of Herakles -- "the upper half is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston" ("Turkey's War on the Illicit Antiquities Trade").  The museum also included a 'reassembled sarcophagus' which had had a piece returned by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu 'when Turkish archaeologists identified it as stolen'.  Another sarcophagus had been displayed at the Brooklyn Museum until it was returned to Turkey in 1994.

'Weary Herakles', which Acar wrote about in the same article in Archaeology magazine in 1995, is dated 170-192 AD and 'shows the tired hero leaning on his club.' The upper half of the statue was jointly owned by Leon Levy and Shelby White, New York collectors, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This is what Acar wrote then:
"In 1980 Jale Inan, director of excavations at the ancient city of Perge, northeast of Antalya, heard rumors that something important had been stolen from the site.  Later that summer, while excavating a Roman villa, Inan discovered the bottom half of the Herakles statue, as well as several other sculptures that were complete.  By 1981 the top half of the Herakles had been acquired by Levy, who gave a half-interest in the sculpture to the Boston museum.  The statue was displayed at the Metropolitan from late 1990 through early 1991 in an exhibition of White and Levy's collection titled Glories of the Past.  Turkey learned of the Levy-White Herakles from the exhibition catalogue (for which Boston's curator Cornelius Vermeule had written an entry on the statue) and from a photograph that was faxed to the Antalya Museum.  Articles in Connoisseur magazine and The New York Times showed the upper and lower halves of the statue photographically rejoined."
Although the two halves were shown to fit as early as 1995, the burden of proof was placed on Turkey to prove that the top half of Herakles had been stolen.

If you would like to read more about the return of Herakles to Turkey, you may find articles in English written here and here in Hürryet Daily News.