Iran loses UK High Court battle to recover 'stolen' antiquities

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Iran has lost a High Court battle to recover a collection of 5,000-year-old grave relics it says were looted from desert sites. In a ruling that could have implications for attempts by other countries to secure the return of antiquities, Mr Justice Gray said that, under the provisions of Iranian law, it could not show that it had obtained valid title to the artefacts.

Iran had sued the Barakat Gallery, an antiquities specialist with offices in Mayfair, central London and Beverly Hills, seeking to recover carved objects it said were taken from the ancient city of Jiroft in the Halil river valley in south-eastern Iran.

Lawyers acting for Iran said the treasures were among thousands of pieces stolen after floods washed away the topsoil and exposed relics in Jiroft in 2001.

But the judge said Iran had failed to prove its legal ownership of the jars, cups and other items but gave permission for his ruling to be challenged at the appeal court.

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