Federal agents raided four California museums and a private gallery in a smuggling investigation into stolen foreign antiquities, reports the New York Times. The gallery allegedly imported looted goods from Thailand, Myanmar, and China, and individuals got inflated tax write-offs for donating them to museums. No charges have yet been filed in the case, which is being investigated by immigration, national park, and tax authorities.
The raids were a surprise, despite the prosecution of a former curator at Los Angeles' Getty Museum. At the Bowers and Asia Pacific museums, curators appeared to be aware of their donation’s illegal origins, according to affidavits. Another museum’s curators “were sticklers for having good provenance,” a gallery owner told an undercover agent, but said it “had found a loophole.”