Federal authorities called San Diego’s Mingei International Museum a “repository for stolen Thai archaeological resources” when they suddenly raided the institution, ordering 67 items to be immediately taken from public view.
The inquiry thrust the museum, dedicated to “arts of the people,” into the spotlight. But more than three and a half years later, Kelly Bennett reports, those 67 items remain locked away. Though there’s been little public progress in the investigation, federal prosecutors in L.A. tell Bennett they’re still working on it.
“The whole story bursts with intriguing tentacles,” Bennett writes, telling a backstory that includes an alleged “grave robber,” a key player’s death in custody and hints as to how a quiet museum in Balboa Park got ensnared in an international smuggling case focused on antiquities from a long-ago Thai culture.