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Iran sues Barakat Gallery for return of antiquities apparently looted from Jiroft

The gallery's owner makes no comment on artefacts' origins, but insists that all purchases were made legally

The Iranian government is suing London’s Barakat Gallery for the return of £500,000 ($913,000) worth of antiquities, which it claims were looted. The 18 items comprise seven vases, four cups, three weights, two jars, a bowl and a vessel. All are said to come from Jiroft, a site south-east of Tehran which dates from the third millennium BC.

Since its discovery in 2001, looting has been a major problem (see below). According to the statement of claim, lodged by solicitors Russell Jones & Walker, British Museum keeper John Curtis advises that all 18 objects with the Barakat Gallery “are of Jiroft type; all are very distinctive; and that there is no possibility that these items could come from any other sites”.

The Iranians are arguing that it is illegal to excavate or export any Jiroft antiquities.

Fayez Barakat, owner of the gallery (which also operates from Beverly Hills), denies any wrongdoing, and has “all of the necessary paperwork to show that they were legitimately bought”, but he would not comment further.

No date has been set for the hearing in the High Court in London.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Iran sues Barakat Gallery for return of antiquities it says were looted from Jiroft'