The collection of cultural treasures is thought to have been smuggled to Munich from Costa Rica by way of Spain, according to the Bavarian state police. Several countries including Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador lay claim to various items that were in the possession of a 66-year-old Costa Rican art collector.
According to the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the man, identified as Leonardo Augustus P., claims to be a former diplomat who properly obtained the artifacts. The man, now a resident primarily of Geneva, is reportedly well-known to police dealing with smuggled art and exotic animals on several continents. He has even picked up the unflattering nickname “The Thief of the Treasures” in his native Costa Rica.
“At the moment it’s still unclear how this collection was put together in its current form,” police said in a statement. “Presently there is no indication as to whether the items were stolen or raided.”
Although the collection was displayed in 1997 in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, the man from Costa Rica did not have proper authorization to transport them outside of Spain. After the Costa Rican government alerted German authorities last week that the collection might be on its way to Germany, the Bavarian police tracked down the archaeological treasures.
“It still has to be determined who actually owns the items,” Detlef Puchelt, spokesman for the Bavarian state police, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.