US retains hundreds of illegally acquired artifacts to Haiti

Artifacts from Haiti

WASHINGTON, United States – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Art Crime Team has returned more than 450 cultural and historical artifacts to Haiti in the largest repatriation of art from the United State to the French-speaking Caribbean nation.

Representatives from the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the US Department of State Bureau of

Educational and Cultural Affairs, Haiti’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, and the Bureau National d’Ethnologie of Haiti joined the FBI Art Crime Team for a repatriation ceremony at the Bureau of Ethnology in Port-au-Prince to return the items.

The 479 Haitian artifacts were discovered in 2014, when the FBI Art Crime Team seized more than 7,000 items from the private collection of an amateur archaeologist Donald Miller, who had likely acquired the items in contravention of state and federal law and international treaties. This was the largest single recovery of culture property in FBI history.

Miller amassed his collection over seven decades from locations around the world and kept it on display in his basement in Waldron, Indiana prior to turning it over to the FBI. Since 2014, the FBI Art Crime Team has been working to identify the rightful home of each item in the seized collection.

The repatriation returns significant historical property, long missing, to Haiti. “The FBI

recognizes the significant role artifacts like these play in a culture’s history and identity. We are honoured to return these pieces to the people of Haiti,” said Assistant Director Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“The FBI is committed to returning stolen art and other objects of cultural and historical significance to the communities to which they belong.” The FBI’s work on this case is ongoing.