New York, USA – Chaldeans and Assyrians in American are appalled at Christie’s Auction House of New York. “They are war profiteers moving the spoils of war,” says Chaldean art collector Enas Namoo from his downtown Chicago office. The Chaldean art collector, well known for his Mediterranean art collection, was furious for what he saw in the catalog of the ancient art and antiquities auction at Christie's next week. Among the collection was a pair of neo-Assyrian earrings established as artifacts of Mesopotamia. “This belongs in the museum, not on an auction block,” said a angered Namoo.
Along with Namoo, Iraqi authorities have also appealed to have the pair of neo-Assyrian earrings returned. The 9,000–10,000-year-old earrings are expected to bring in up to $65,000, but Iraqi officials say they are part of the treasures of Nimrud and thus rightfully the property of Iraq.
Chaldean archeologist, art curator, antiquity expert, and former director of the Iraq Museum Donny George says, “I am 100 percent sure they are from the same tombs from Nimrud. I witnessed the excavation."
The treasures of Nimrud were discovered by Iraqi archaeologist Muzahem Hussein after a 19th-century British excavation of Nimrud, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, missed the royal tombs.
Eight pairs of seemingly identical gold earrings were unearthed there, along with hundreds of bowls, ceremonial objects, and other gold jewelry. The finds were placed in bank vaults and displayed only once at the Iraq Museum before Saddam Hussein was ousted.
After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, U.S. investigators and Iraqi officials tracked down the treasures of Nimrud in a vault within a vault in the basement of Iraq's destroyed central bank.
“They know they will be challenged on this. That is why they try to say the earrings were owned prior to the war,” says Namoo.
Christie's listing for the pair of earrings on offer says they were acquired from their previous owner before 1969. The auction house's Web site refers potential buyers to a German archaeological text "for a similar pair from a royal tomb at Nimrud."
www.CHALDEAN.org has placed numerous calls and e-mails to the auction house asking for documentation, proof of ownership, or official certificates of rights to resell for antiquities, in the hopes that a confirmation can be made that the earrings were not part of a war booty. All requests have gone unanswered at the time of this report.