Five people suspected of participating in an antiques smuggling ring exploiting conflict and unrest in Middle Eastern countries to spirit out works for sale in France have been detained for questioning in Paris, a judicial source said.
A preliminary inquiry was opened by French anti-trafficking and fraud agents in July 2018 into an alleged network involving art dealers, antique experts and museum curators, the source said, confirming a report by RTL radio.
Antiques worth tens of millions of euros are thought to have been taken from countries including Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, often through the renowned Pierre Berge auction house based in Paris, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
The initial findings were transferred to investigating magistrates in Paris last February.
A Pierre Berge director and in-house expert, as well as a former curator at the Louvre museum, are among those being questioned, the source said.
The potentially face charges of receipt of stolen goods, money laundering, forgery and fraud.
Source: archaeology news network