541. The Case of the $4 Million Gold Coffin
Freakonomics Radio
Thu, May 4, 2023
Podchat Summary

Episode Description: Returning Stolen Artifacts: The Challenges and Implications

In this thought-provoking episode, we delve into the global movement to return stolen artifacts to their places of origin. Our focus centers on a high-profile case involving the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which unwittingly acquired a looted gold coffin. As the story unfolds, we explore the complexities of determining the legality of antiquities and the crucial role played by collectors and museums in the illicit trade.

The episode sheds light on the need for thorough due diligence and strict adherence to the laws of countries of origin by museums and collectors. We examine the economic and cultural implications of returning stolen artifacts, recognizing the significance of these objects to their rightful owners and the communities they belong to.

Throughout the episode, we navigate the intricate web of challenges faced in restitution efforts. From legal hurdles to ethical considerations, we explore the multifaceted nature of the issue. We also highlight the remarkable work of Matthew Bogdanos, an assistant district attorney in New York who specializes in antiquities trafficking. Bogdanos's tireless efforts have led to the recovery of thousands of stolen cultural treasures.

Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of stolen artifacts, uncovering the complexities, implications, and ongoing efforts to right historical wrongs.

Original Show Notes

How did a freshly looted Egyptian antiquity end up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Why did it take Kim Kardashian to crack the case? And how much of what you see in any museum is stolen? (Part 1 of “Stealing Art Is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard.”)

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