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22 September 2011

INTERPOL issues alert following disappearance of cultural goods in Libya

LYON, France – INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters has issued an alert to its 188 National Central Bureaus following the recent theft in Libya both of an archaeological collection known as “the Treasure of Bengasi” as well as three paintings taken from the British ambassador’s residence in Tripoli.

The alert was published as part of INTERPOL’s close partnership with UNESCO which has exposed the threats which Libyan cultural heritage is currently facing as a result of the ongoing civil unrest and armed conflict in the country. Risks include material damage as well as theft, looting and the subsequent illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts.

INTERPOL alert will highlight to the international community the wider risks involving Libya’s cultural heritage and is a call for countries to remain vigilant on the illegal trade of invaluable cultural treasures,” said Karl-Heinz Kind of INTERPOL’s Works of Art unit.

Recent civil unrest and armed conflict across North Africa and the Middle East has seen both the destruction and theft of significant cultural property and works of art. In this respect, INTERPOL has recorded the details of lost identifiable items in its Stolen Works of Art database which is publicly accessible via

The illicit traffic of cultural property is a worldwide increasing problem affecting not only the countries of origin of the cultural goods, but also the countries of transit and of final destination. INTERPOL through its National Central Bureaus and with the support and collaboration of international organizations, such as UNESCO, is making every effort possible to curb this criminal activity, so as to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of its member countries.