Five people suspected of participating in a network of trafficking in antiques from unstable areas in the Near and Middle East and sold on the art market in France were placed in police custody Monday and Tuesday in Paris, say concordant sources.
These people were arrested as part of a judicial investigation opened in February, said judicial sources and close to the case, confirming information from RTL. They belong to a network of professionals involving art dealers, experts and international museums.
This traffic, which is estimated at several tens of millions of euros, consisted in reselling antiques from countries like Libya, Syria, Egypt or Yemen on the art market, in particular via the house of Pierre Bergé et Associés auctions, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Preliminary investigation opened in July 2018
A preliminary investigation was opened in July 2018 and entrusted to the Central Office to Combat Trafficking in Cultural Property (OCBC) and the Central Office for the Suppression of Serious Financial Crime (OCRGDF).
The investigations were then transmitted on February 7 by the national court responsible for combating organized crime (Junalco) from the Paris prosecutor's office to investigating judges in the context of judicial information for concealment of theft in organized gangs, association of criminals, money laundering and swindling in an organized gang, forgery and use of forgery as well as omission of mention by the seller in the register of movable objects.
Among those arrested were the director of the auction house Pierre Bergé, one of his experts and a former curator of the Louvre.