Serop Simonian Art Dealer Arrested by German Polica

Serop Simonian, a German-Egyptian Infamous Art Dealer, Met With a European Warrant for His Arrest and is Captured by Germany.

Nov 5, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Serop Simonian
Egypt’s Antiquities Minister and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Thomas Goldberger looks at the Golden Coffin of Nedjemankh, on display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo on October 1, 2019, following its repatriation from the US. (Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images).


Serop Simonian met with a European warrant for his arrest. Overall, the authorities detained him on accusations of operating a criminal trafficking organisation. This organisation is the focus of an international probe, including influential organisations. Some of the institutions in question are the Louvre and the Met.


Serop Simonian Accused of Trafficking and Laundering

Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.


Also, the authorities accused Simon of trafficking and laundering, but he disclaims any transgression. The inquiry focuses on unlawfully smuggled antiques. The Met in New York and the Louvre Abu Dhabi acquired these pieces between 2014 and 2017. Also, many Parisian art dealers passed through the investigation. This includes many Parisian art dealers passed through the investigation.


They both admitted to falsifying origins records. Two museum professionals, Jean-Luc Martinez, former director of the Louvre from 2013 until 2021, and Jean-François Charnier, curator and scientific director at Agence France Muséums, participated in this affair. Judges in France declined to dismiss Martinez and Charnier’s allegations previously this year.


The gilded coffin of Nedjemankh. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The allegations are connected to “complicity” and “facilitating” the purportedly trafficking products purchased by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The Louvre wants to be a third party in the legal action brought by its previous director. General opinion is Simon was the origin of the purportedly illicit antiques. These pieces the Met and Louvre Abu Dhabi purchased for somewhere around $63 million.

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His Defence

Black-Figured Amphora depicting Hoplites running, Athens, possibly by Nicomarchos Painter about 323 BCE, via the Louvre


He also asserts that his relatives had these artefacts and that they fled Egypt in the 1970s. At that time, as he also stated, it was legal to take these actions. Among the historic Egyptian relics under dispute is the priest Nedjemankh’s gilded tomb. Overall, the Met acquired it in 2017 for $3.7 million. The Arab Spring in 2011 was time time when looting occured.


Manhattan District Attorney’s office conficsated the piece. Besides this one, there are also three additional priceless items and a painting of Fayum from a mummy. These then went back to Egypt. Simonian also has a connection to at least two reportedly stolen artefacts, provided to the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Agence France Museums in 2014 and 2015.


A bronze statuette of an athlete probably made in Paros but found in Delphi, circa 460 BCE, via Louvre


The investigation has found that Simonian legitimized these allegedly trafficked goods by getting three German museums to store them in their warehouses for long periods. In exchange, the institutions were permitted to exhibit the antiquities, further increasing their value.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.