Police Recover Muammar Gaddafi’s $10 Million Looted Dagger

The dagger was allegedly looted when Gaddafi was deposed and executed.

This dagger was reportedly looted from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's palace in 2011, and was just recovered from smugglers by Istanbul police. Courtesy of the Istanbul Heritage Authority.
This dagger was reportedly looted from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's palace in 2011, and was just recovered from smugglers by Istanbul police. Courtesy of the Istanbul Heritage Authority.

Turkish police have seized a dagger allegedly looted from Muammar Gaddafi’s palace when the Libyan leader was deposed in 2011, reports the Associated Press. The elegantly-carved ivory dagger, encrusted with sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds and mounted on a base decorated with two ivory lions, was reportedly about to be sold to a Saudi businessman for $10 million.

Following a successful anti-smuggling operation, the police have arrested the prospective seller, a businessman who is said to have bought the dagger himself for $4.6 million three months ago, as well as two additional suspects.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2010. Courtesy of photographer Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2010. Courtesy of photographer Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images.

All three have only been identified by their initials, and were charged with smuggling as well as violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The accused have been released, and a trial is pending.

In an unrelated operation, Turkish police have also recovered some $20 million in stolen artwork in Istanbul through the efforts of the department’s anti-smuggling branch, according to Artforum.

Stolen artwork recovered in Turkey. Courtesy of the Istanbul Police Department Anti-Smuggling Branch.

Stolen artwork recovered in Turkey. Courtesy of the Istanbul Police Department Anti-Smuggling Branch.

The 55 works, which included 18 paintings, as well as calligraphy works and lecterns, were found in a police raid of a house in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district. According to the Hurriyet Daily News, a smuggler, who has been identified by his initials, M.N.K., had tried to sell the artifacts to tourists, and planned to smuggle them abroad. He was caught by undercover police officers, who offered him 1 million Turkish Liras (about $340,000) for the works.

During the raid, M.N.K. was arrested and the works were seized. They were subsequently examined by a museum, which found that 50 of the pieces were genuine. The cache included canvases by 20th century Turkish artist Nazmi Ziya Güran and 18th- and 19th-century Armenian and Greek painters.


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