Rogue's gallery -- the Queens warehouse that holds a fortune in stolen art
A sarcophagus sharing space with ancient terra cotta urns, bronze sculptures of Indian deities and a 2,700-year-old drinking vessel may not seem all that unusual in New York City.
But this is not a room at an august museum or fancy Madison Avenue gallery.
These antiquities and art objects — some 2,500 pieces — are wrapped up and tucked away in a nondescript Queens warehouse. In a locked and climate-controlled storage unit, the treasures sit as potential evidence in smuggling or forgery cases or await return to countries where they were pinched from museums or plundered from archeological digs.
The Post was given a rare look inside the warehouse used by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The location of the building could not be disclosed and no photos could be taken in the storage room itself. Because of ongoing investigations, the back stories behind the sarcophagus and other objects remain closely guarded secrets.
New York, as a capital of the art world, is a major center of the illicit art and antiquities trade, which has been estimated as a $6 billion a year business worldwide.
Nationally, ICE agents logged 63 antiquity seizures in 2009 and 46 from Oct. 1, 2009, through last Thursday....
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