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Art dealer convicted of selling stolen artifacts

Schultz, seen here in a courtroom sketch, argued he was conned into believing the artifacts came from a private collector.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal jury this week found a prominent New York art dealer guilty of selling stolen Egyptian antiquities and, in effect, of violating Egyptian law.

Frederick Schultz could face up to five years in jail and $250,000 in fines for conspiring to collect stolen ancient Egyptian artifacts after his conviction Tuesday.

Working from his east Manhattan gallery, prosecutors said Schultz faked private ownership histories to get around Egyptian export laws, later selling the items for millions of dollars.

Defense lawyers argued that government witnesses -- who were self-described antiquities thieves -- conned their client into thinking the newly discovered artifacts were from a private British collection.

Schultz did not know of a decades-old Egyptian law declaring the antiquities he acquired the property of the Egyptian government, his attorneys said.

The law was drawn up to ensure ancient artifacts indigenous to Egypt and without an established owner remain in the country -- or at the least are not removed or sold without the government's permission.

Egypt, long the victim of antiquities looting, applauded the jury for applying their laws in U.S. courts.

But some art dealers and museum curators expressed concern with the verdict, saying it is difficult verify ownership histories of some artifacts

Other art groups have tried to distance themselves from Schultz's acts and conviction -- including the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, an organization he once headed.

The Schultz case was "an isolated incident that does not reflect the high standards of its members," the group said in a statement.

Attorneys for Schultz, who will be sentenced in May, have promised to appeal Tuesday's verdict.




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