W HEN MEMBERS of the semi-militarised Civil Guard raided the home of Ricardo Granada in Illueca, a village in north-eastern Spain, in 2013, they found coins minted by a Celtiberian tribe that once inhabited the area, stored by Granada in chocolate boxes. Pellets for ancient slings were strewn on top of a television set. There were brooches, ceramics and breastplates—around 4,000 antiquities in total, kept in haphazard fashion. But, remarked the prosecutors who ordered the raid, there was no sign of weapons or helmets which, they wrote, "may already have been sold to third parties". Indeed. By then at least 18 bronze Celtiberian helmets in uniquely good condition—and of incalculable historical value—had reached the antiquities market. Seven went to Christian Levett, a British collector. At his Museum of Classical Art in Mougins in southern France, treasures from antiquity are displayed alongside works by modern and contemporary artists including Picasso, Matisse and Damien Hirst. On September 14th these helmets will be the focus of a court hearing in Munich with far-reaching implications for the often murky trade in antiquities. Debate in the art world has hitherto concentrated on objects seized by colonial and other raiders and held in big museums, some… Read full this story
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