Looting continues in Peru

Moche Monkey Head
New Mexico Dept. of Cultural Affairs
A Monkey Head pendant of the pre-Columbian Moche culture (ca. 100-800 A.D.) returned to Peruvian embassy officials in 2011

Looting and illicit antiquities trafficking continues despite protective measures both in Peru and abroad. Thankfully, U.S. import restrictions have resulted in the confiscation and return of many artifacts to Peru, including 18th century religious artifacts stolen from churches and thousand-year-old human skulls torn from their graves.  According to the International Council of Museums’ Red List of Peruvian Antiquities at Risk, over 5,000 looted objects were seized between 2004 and 2006 thanks to the MOU.

In one of the largest busts of trafficked antiquities, U.S. Customs seized 412 pre-Columbian artifacts—including silver masks, Inca quipus, and effigy vessels—from an Italian art thief, and returned them to Peru in 2007. Since 2010, U.S. Customs has intercepted and returned to Peru the above-mentioned pre-Columbian human skulls and 18th century manuscript, Inca pottery, Moche sculpture, and textiles. In 2011, a Moche gold bead in the shape of a monkey head in the Museum of New Mexico’s Palace of the Governors was returned to Peru after it was identified as having been illegally removed from the royal tombs of Sipán.




Smuggler caught in Houston

18th century manuscript seized

Looted Moche gold bead returned to Peru

NY collector returns looted ceramics

Italian antiquities dealer arrested and 400+ Peruvian objects confiscated

Looted Peruvian headdress recovered by Scotland Yard in London