Today the FBI
returned to the government of Peru two Colonial paintings that were recovered by the FBI Art Crime Team. FBI Assistant Director Kevin Perkins, Criminal Investigative Division, presented the artifacts to Ambassador Luis Miguel Valdivieso at a ceremony at the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C.
We are pleased to be able to return these paintings to the government of Peru, said Assistant Director Perkins. Unfortunately, Peru suffers from depredations caused by thieves and looters and these stolen and looted objects regularly are brought into the U.S. for sale or display. This deprives the Peruvian people of their religious and cultural heritage and corrupts the legitimate market for works of art.
In 2005, Exipion Ernesto Ortiz-Espinosa brought two paintings into the United States from Bolivia. One of the paintings, the 18th century oil on canvas known as Doble Trinidad or Sagrada Familia, depicts the Holy Family with Trinity in a style characteristic of the Cusco School of painting. It has been appraised at $26,000. The other painting, Saint Dominic, an 18th century oil on canvas, depicts Saint Dominic offering a wedding veil to Santa Rosa of Lima and has been valued at $38,000. The works are of the Cusco and Lima style of religious painting created to inspire devotion and hung in churches, monasteries, and convents throughout Peru during the Colonial period.
Ortiz consigned the two paintings to a gallery for sale. Suspecting the paintings were stolen when he observed they had been cut from their frames and that the appropriate legal documentation could not be produced, the dealer called the FBI. The paintings were seized in 2007 and forfeited in 2009 pursuant to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CCPIA). Under the CCPIA, the 1997 bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Peru, it is illegal to import Colonial-era religious paintings into the United States from Peru without documentation certifying that the export did not violate Peruvian law.