Legal battle between a German looter and his German agent

Shipwreck Scandal - Indonesia Investigates German treasure hunter for Fraud

By Jürgen Kremb

Tilman Walterfang used to be a star in Indonesia. With the discovery of a Tang Dynasty shipwreck in 1998, the one-time mechanic became a famous archeologist and helped Indonesians learn more about the 'Silk Road of the Sea.' Now, Walterfang is being investigated by Jakarta, which believes he may have swindled the government out of millions of dollars.


And some more...

In 1998, German treasure hunter Tilman Walterfang found over 60,000 pieces of ancient Chinese ceramic dating to between the 7th and 10th centuries, near the Bangka-Belitung islands. The discovery was praised as one of the most important ever in Asia, as it helped archeologists understand the ancient trade route known as the 'Silk Road of the sea'.

While the recovered materials were valued at about $80 million, Walterfang ended up paying Indonesia only $2.5 million in cash plus a number of unsold pieces.

To avoid paying the state its share of the treasure, Walterfang, who was reportedly financed by Matthias Dragger, a wealthy heir to Germany's Dragger family fortune, and his affluent brother-in-law Hans Michael Jebsen, director and co-owner of Jebsen & Co., a leading Hong Kong-based trading company, allegedly bribed several high-ranking officials in the Defense Ministry and the Navy.

German publication Der Spiegel, in its Jan. 30, 2006, edition, reported that Walterfang sold most of the ceramic pieces to the Singapore government in 2005 for $32 million, while taking recovered gold pieces to Germany and a large part of the remaining ceramics to New Zealand.

'We are still investigating the case. Unfortunately, all of the ship's crew, including the German, has left Indonesia. We are trying to trace him to find out why the state received so little,' a police officer close to the investigation told the Post. (Abdul Khalik)


 @ More about the scam...
@ The story
@ Illicit operations salvaging historic wrecks
@ Rickshaw Investments Ltd and Another vs Nicolai Baron von Uexkull
@ Sunken Chinese treasures rewrites History
@ Herman Spiro's blog - The angry Indonesian local partner

Comments (9)

1. Treasures (link) 13/04/2011

Hello Mrs. "Digging for truth",

I would have been happy to answer all your questions if you had put your e-mail address and your name in your post...

2. digging for truth 13/04/2011

I can't help but wonder- how do you know all these things that you mention in these (your) articles here-???

Were you working with Mr. Walterfang on the project or something? or do you simply believe everything you read in the newspapers??

Do you know Walterfang personally?

Why do you devote so much attention to him?

I am researching the Smithsonian / Harvard University connections to the artifacts recovered and the upcoming world-wide tour for an article that I am writing, so maybe you can help to clarify a few issues, yes?

Since the Smithsonian Institute and Government of Singapore have either bought or displayed or arranged a wold tour for the Tang Shipwreck Collection; are you saying that they are all somehow complicit with Walterfang in committing some kind of crime or unethical activities?

I am seriously interested, because the CNN, FORBES, Smithsonian and National Geographic articles don't seem to agree with your point of view.

Can you please explain in greater detail what your relationship is to Walterfang?

It seems like you have a grudge against him (or something more intimately engaging).

Are you a treasure hunter yourself?

Did you have something to do with the find of the Belitung shipwreck?

Are you an eyewitness to any of the events that you speculate about on your website here???

Best regards,
Digging for Truth

3. Kevin L. 19/02/2011

The Freemasons will get him, the all seeing eye knows where you are.

so mote it be.

4. Pascal 28/07/2010

l.lawrence, who ever you are... If you can read English language the facts are clearly explained in the newspaper links inside the post.

Now, when you want to defend something or someone, but you don't have the guts to put your contact email for answers, how can we know how fake you are or not...!

5. l. lawrence 28/07/2010

ggg people, get your facts straight before you attack someone over the net!!! all of you.

6. George Templeton 18/06/2010

Why not contact Tilman your self he is at 72 Trafalgar Street Nelson . New Zealand

7. catrina 28/04/2009

hi g. walterfang you are guilty

8. Pascal 24/02/2009

Hello G. Walterfang,

What you can read on this website is taken from the world press. So his bad reputation is already known all over the place.

But what your father might or might not have told you is that he found a nasty way to spoliate the french group Ocean Research Ltd, led by Pascal Kainic, which was first to ask the permit to the authorities in Jakarta, back in 1998 !

And as far as we know from the actual authorities, he is not welcome to start other projects in Indonesia "under his name" even though he has regularly ask for it those last few years...

PS: To put your email on comments is optionnal, but as you didn't add it, I answer you through the website.

9. G. Walterfang 24/02/2009

wow you people put together a nice wee story about my father....

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