2.18.2011

The Trabelsi Family and Antiquities

Two articles in the Tunisian press about the relatives of Ben Ali's wife, the Trabelsi family, and antiquities.

La Presse de Tunisie - plus-de-130-pieces-retrouvees | 22703 | 16022011

More than 130 pieces of archaeological material have been reclaimed from Trabelsi family villas, including the Punic stele in the photo here. According to Ezzeddine Bach Chaouch, the Mininster of Culture:
Certaines de ces pièces ... avaient servi comme ornements de chapiteaux, colonnes et bords de piscines dans des demeures luxueuses sises à Soukra, Sidi Bou Saïd et Hammamet.
 And this photo from the pool area of Ben Ali's daughter, Sakhr El Matri's villa pretty much makes the point ... archaeological material as garden furniture.

The second article cover antiquities smuggling and sounds pretty bad - I was under the impression that most of the North African material coming onto the art market had been exiting via Libya, but it sounds as if an awful lot was exiting via Tunisia.

La Presse de Tunisie - apres-la-guerre-des-clans-le-monopole | 22628 | 14022011:

"les innombrables objets archeologiques qui ont ete derobes et rassembles dans des maisons appartenant a l’ancienne famille regnante. Le trafic des pieces archeologiques est devenu, en effet, une activite fructueuse au profit des membres de la famille Trabelsi…"

A pretty damning article about the Trabelsi family of Ben Ali's wife and antiquities smuggling in Tunisia.

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