Gold bars stolen from 1746 shipwreck

Artifacts are displayed during a ceremony marking the restitution of cultural property from the US to France at the ambassador's residence in Washington, DC, on March 2, 2022


By Geneva Sands - CNN

 

The United States returned several stolen artifacts to France on Wednesday, including five gold bars from a 1746 shipwreck after a decades-long investigation led US federal agents to seize the items from an online auction in California.

Seven artifacts were transferred from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations to French Ambassador to the US Philippe Étienne during a formal repatriation ceremony Wednesday at the French Embassy in Washington.

The United States returned several stolen artifacts to France on Wednesday, including five gold bars from a 1746 shipwreck after a decades-long investigation led US federal agents to seize the items from an online auction in California.

Seven artifacts were transferred from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations to French Ambassador to the US Philippe Étienne during a formal repatriation ceremony Wednesday at the French Embassy in Washington.

At the time, a group of divers discovered the wreck and applied for a French permit to excavate the site. But the excavators ultimately looted the wreck site, according to Keller.

The French government indicted several of the excavators in the early 1980s, and it's been "chasing down these artifacts and the ingots from the vessel ever since then," he said.

The bars made an appearance in a 1999 episode of "Antiques Roadshow," when a woman presented the ingots and pieces of Chinese porcelain, claiming they had been found off the coast of Africa, according to Keller.

But it wasn't until years later that the bars resurfaced and Homeland Security Investigations federal agents got involved in the case.


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gold shipwreck France theft