Robin Symes is a former well known and successful antiquities dealer in London who was sent to prison after being accused of illegally trading looted antiquities to western museums. After declaring bankruptcy in 2003, his collection of ancient objects was liquidized by British audit and tax firm, BDO, as an effort to recover taxes owed by Robin Symes LTD. Believing many of the works liquidated were illegally taken from their country, Italy is seeking return of about 700 ancient objects.
In their effort, Italy has requested BDO to bring forward information on the status of the objects within thirty days. It has been rumored that the firm has been selling the liquidated goods to the Middle East; areas like Abu Dhabi have been known for their recent spark of patrons of the arts. Wealthy individuals are investing millions of dollars into their collections and several museums are well on their way to opening within a few years. The selling of the looted Italian ancient objects is illegal under the Dealing in Cultural Offences Act, passed in 2003, which can result in a 7 year prison sentence and unlimited fines.
If BDO fails to respond, Maurizio Fiorilli, Italy’s state legal counsel on the case will notify the public prosecutor at the Criminal Tribunal in Rome.
In their request Italy includes a list of jewelry, Greek-style vessels, marble heads, terracotta statues and bronze busts that they believe was looted.