FBI agents carted off boxes and bags of apparent evidence during a raid Tuesday on the Ridgewood home of a former Manhattan art gallery owner, witnesses said.
Frederick Street was lined with vans and other federal vehicles as agents sorted items collected from the home of Selim and Aysel Dere in the driveway and attached garage.
The couple's son, Erdal Dere, 50, of New York City, and another man, Faisal Khan, 47, of Flanders were arrested by federal agents on Tuesday.
An indictment returned by a grand jury in Manhattan charged both men with "engaging in a years-long scheme to defraud buyers and brokers in the antiquities market" by using the names of dead dealers and brokers to "offer and sell antiquities."
The men conducted the scheme from the now-defunct Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd gallery on East 69th Street off Madison Avenue that Selim Dere and his son owned and operated, authorities said.
The younger Dere falsified sales records and then posed as dealers when meeting with clients, the Southern District of New York indictment alleges.
“The integrity of the legitimate market in antiquities rests on the accuracy of the provenance provided by antiquities dealers, which prevents the sale of stolen and looted antiquities that lack any legitimate provenance," acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
Dere and Khan, she said, “compromised that integrity, and defrauded buyers and brokers of the antiquities they sold."
The elder Dere reportedly had previous involvement with law enforcement.
News accounts tell of Turkish police taking Selim Dere and two other men into custody more than 25 years ago in connection with the alleged smuggling of a marble sarcophagus.
One reported cited a seizure warrant executed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office at Fortuna for an ancient Etruscan terracotta work, “Hare Aryballos,” circa 580-560 BCE (SEE: Seizure: An Etruscan Hare Aryballos circa 580-560 B.C.E.).
Another referred to the seizure by FBI agents of a marble statue and fragment of garland that was believed to come from the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias in Turkey (SEE: Zeugma's Plundered Mosaics).
Boyd A. Loving took the photos and contributed to this account.
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