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Istanbul: Hub for Islamic Art Theft

Looking for some illegally-acquired Islamic Art? Check out the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

Deep within the Bazaar’s labyrinth of streets and alleyways, packed with vendors selling fake Gucci bags and cheap T-shirts, are people who can find, for the right price, prized Islamic artifacts — as long as there are no questions asked about where and how the items are secured, said one Turkish police detective.

“You have gangs of three or four people stealing from museums or mosques and they bring the artifacts to the Grand Bazaar, where there are dealers who have contacts in Europe,” said detective Ismail Sahin, who, until 2011, headed the Istanbul Police’s department for ancient stolen artifacts. “The Bazaar also deals with stolen artifacts from across the region.”

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Story: Dorian Jones, EurasiaNet | Photo: Jonathan Lewis

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