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Breaking Benjamin - Ember. James M. Room 13 and Other Ghost Stories. Five short stories to scare and enthral. Brandon Fraser classic retro poster home decoration painting. James Fenimore Cooper was a prolific and popular American writer of the first half of the 19th century. Tokeley-Parry says, he knew that the stele might have a different problem: Perhaps it had not been unearthed by accident but had actually been stolen from a known archaeological site or a storeroom.
If so, a record might exist -- a photograph or description in a journal -- that would identify it and kill its market value. One defense was to dupe an expert like Dr. Malek into researching the piece. Hence the letter from Mr. Pegler, who was not a lawyer but a friend of Mr. Tokeley-Parry, according to court documents. Malek translated the stele's hieroglyphics, which told of an important government official charged with keeping track of horse populations, who had commissioned the stele as a family memorial.
Malek wrote to Mr.
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He found none; it was unknown. Not long after, the fax machine in the galleries of Frederick Schultz Ancient Art on 57th Street in Manhattan disgorged a letter from Mr. Tokeley-Parry, excitedly describing the discovery at Akhmim. The letter was a remarkable document, putting into writing what is normally only hinted at -- that looted artifacts were for sale. What made it even more remarkable was its timing. Increasingly, the antiquities trade was being accused of illicitly trafficking in plunder.
A number of major museums had begun demanding that dealers provide greater documentation of pieces' ownership histories, or provenance. At the same time, several countries, most notably Greece and Turkey, were asking American courts to order the return of objects they claimed under their national antiquities laws.
The dealers counterattacked. They argued that the United States should not recognize those foreign laws, that there was a bright legal line separating objects stolen from an individual owner -- a museum or collector -- and those that were looted, that is, unearthed and taken from the country of origin.
Frederick Schultz was a key figure in the industry's lobbying campaign; he would soon become president of a leading trade group, the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art. By all accounts, Mr.
Schultz -- a preppy-looking Princeton graduate whose father had been deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve -- was an articulate voice for his industry. He was also a politically savvy one, and he warned his colleagues that, legal principle notwithstanding, any obvious missteps would help arm their critics. For Mr. Schultz, in his early 40's and still relatively new to the business, that high-profile spokesman's role served to enhance his standing. So did his relationship with Jonathan Tokeley-Parry.
In each branch of the antiquities market -- Classical, pre-Columbian, Far Eastern and so forth -- there are perhaps a few dozen dealers of significance. But the very top ranks are occupied by the dealers with the choicest pieces -- the rare and the never before seen. Put another way, given the nature of the hierarchy, Mr.
Schultz's ambition came with a certain incentive to deal in plunder, the stock in trade of Mr. A case in point, according to papers from a later court case, was the piece that began their partnership, the head of Amenhotep III. To complete that journey, though, the smugglers had not simply sheathed Amenhotep in red and gold and sped him through customs as tourist schlock. They also had to deal with the increasingly sticky issue of provenance. Dealers and auction houses often point out that many pieces without clear provenance are still perfectly legitimate, having been purchased by collectors before countries began restricting the trade.
But dealers also sometimes used that argument as a sort of wink-and-a-nod cover story, describing questionable pieces as coming from, say, an ''old English'' or ''old Swiss'' collection. In , with the spotlight coming on the industry, Mr.
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Schultz and Mr. They created a phony collection, supposedly amassed by a civil engineer named Thomas Alcock, who roamed the British Empire in the early 's. Tokeley-Parry used 's conservation techniques to create a veneer of authentic provenance; display stickers, for instance, were made from Victorian-era pharmacy labels soaked in tea for the yellowed brittleness of age. Now their portfolio was poised to grow again, with the addition of the stele of Pasenenkhons.
In , financial records indicate, Mr. Tokeley-Parry or Mr.
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Farag, as down payment for the pieces. The next spring, Mr. Tokeley-Parry traveled to Geneva.
He had an added incentive to complete the deal, he recalls. He had been arrested in Britain and charged with illicit trafficking in antiquities. The Akhmim stele, he hoped, would mean one more big score, an infusion of cash before he had to stand trial. He says Ali Farag had assured him the stele would be in Geneva any day. He waited for two weeks, but it never showed up. In the best Swiss tradition, the next phase of the stele's journey remains obscure. For a time, a half ton of stone seems simply to have disappeared.
Tokeley-Parry says he does not know what happened. Somewhere in the fog, perhaps, there was a double cross. Certainly, there was a change in plans, and a whole new set of characters.
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The paper trail picks up again in late , with a shipping manifest showing that the stele of Pasenenkhons, along with two of the smaller Akhmim steles, had been processed at a warehouse in Zurich. The warehouse was part of a network of sprawling complexes, known as free ports, that handle huge volumes of valuable -- and usually perfectly legitimate -- cargo, from tractors to machine parts to ancient art. Still, duty free and governed by the Swiss system of business discretion, the free ports have helped make Switzerland a crossroads of the smuggler's world. They are self-contained and secretive places, secured behind cyclone fences in major cities and at the airports.
Forklifts transport merchandise down silent cinder-block corridors to bare storage lockers and opulent showrooms set behind metal doors identified by numbers, not company names. Smuggled cargo can enter a free port, change hands and be sent on its way with the barest wisp of a paper trail. To finance the civil war in Sierra Leone, for example, rebel armies used Swiss free ports to disguise the source of tens of millions of dollars of ''blood diamonds'' dispersed to the West, according to a United Nations report.
As for antiquities, Swiss officials say that in the last five years, they have received 75 requests from foreign governments to help track artifacts they believe were smuggled into the country.
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Just who brought the stele of Pasenenkhons into the country, and when, is not clear. But an official of a shipper at the free port that processed the stele and its companion pieces, Rolf Kutny of Rodolphe Haller A. An executive of the free port, Adriano Bienz, said that as a matter of policy, he could not disclose any details about H.
Kutny said the company had rented a locker for a short period and then disappeared. And in November , the stele was on the move again. A shipping manifest shows that a truck left Zurich for Geneva, carrying the three pieces from Akhmim.