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December 13, 2014

Swingler: Who is he and what does he have to do with looted antiquities?

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Yesterday I saw a phrase I hadn't registered before, the Swingler archive (which caught my attention on Professor Gill's blog Looting Matters), so I asked about Swingler to Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis -- who found the information with a simple search on the Internet -- and this was his answer via email:
'When U.S. Customs agents caught up with David Holland Swingler in the early 1990s, they found that he had 230 Apulian and Etruscan vases stashed in his home in Laguna Hills, Calif. The cache was worth about $300,000. Bondioli-Osio said the vases were illegally shipped to Swingler by his Italian partner and fellow food importer, Licio DiLuzio. 
"Parts of this case are rather comical," said Bondioli-Osio. "It seems that DiLuzio's wife, Sandra Scarabelli, had a [falling-out] with her husband. She told police, '[My] husband kicked me out, but he has a load of antiquities in his cellar.' Swingler was actually advertising the sale of these pieces by slipping brochures on car windshields in his neighborhood." DiLuzio was arrested for violating Italy's 1939 law that forbids the digging up and trafficking of antiquities. His case is still in court. Swingler was not charged by U.S. authorities. In 1996, Italian courts sentenced him in absentia to four years in prison and $6,000 in fines. U.S. customs began returning the artifacts to Italy on June 30 this year.'