Nazi loot found in South America
It’s well known that a number of senior members of the Nazi regime fled Germany to Argentina in the closing days of WWII, taking stolen art treasures with them.
Now some of that booty has come to light in a police raid. In early June, the Argentinian Federal Police (PFA) seized a massive collection of looted artefacts and Nazi militaria during a special operations raid in Beunos Aires. As well as the German material there were also stolen antiquities from Japan, China and Egypt.
The recovered loot included busts and pictures of Hitler, animal mummies, silver statues, boxes with cross-hook engravings and objects such as mugs, pistols and other Nazi era items. Nestor Roncaglia, head of the Argentinian Federal Police, commented that the operation was the result of an ongoing investigation designed for, "…the protection and recovery of cultural objects."
Most of the haul had been illegally collected with many of the Asian artifacts being on the Red List of Chinese Cultural Objects. The Red List has been designed as a tool to assist museums, dealers in art and antiquities, collectors, and customs and law enforcement officials in the identification of objects that may have been stolen and illegally exported from China. To facilitate identification, the Red List illustrates a number of categories of objects that are at risk of being illicitly traded on the international antiquities market.
The collection was hidden from casual gaze behind a false wall, as the owners sought to trade the items on the black market. Three raids were carried out by the PFA during the operation, with two in shopping centres in districts of Vicente López, which is 20km from Buenos Aires, and one on a farm in San Isidro, a small city, 28km north of Buenos Aires.