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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.