Brazil police seize art piece suspected of having been stolen in Libya

Brazil’s Federal Police today (Jul. 29) executed a search and seizure warrant on a work of art acquired online, suspected of having been stolen at a museum in Libya in 1990.

According to the police, the piece is a marble sculpture of a human head representing Asclepius, the Greek God of healing, from 400 BC.

The request to search for the piece was made in a communication from Interpol Tripoli, in Libya, to its national central in Brazil. According to Interpol’s secretariat-general, the sculpture is on the organization’s database of stolen works of art.

The Federal Police further explains that the piece had been retained by the Revenue Service at the International Airport of Viracopos, Campinas, São Paulo, and stayed at the customs unit from February to September 2020, but was released by the buyer after the imports documents were presented. The illicit nature of the purchase could not be verified.

The object will be analyzed by experts, the police stated, and, in case its authenticity and origin are confirmed, it will be repatriated to Libya. The buyer will be heard in order to clarify whether he was aware of its provenance.