By Aphrodite Kotrotsios and Fotis Kaliambakos – Special to Hellenic News of America
Matthew Bogdanos, the Greek-American Assistant District Attorney of Manhattan, has become a well-known figure in Greece due to his role in the recurring ceremony for the return of ancient artifacts from the New York District Attorney’s Office to the Greek government. This event has garnered significant attention from both the Greek-American community and Greek television correspondents.
The displayed artifacts included remarkable ancient items from various periods of Greek history, such as Cycladic figurines, Mycenaean pottery, and vessels. Notable pieces from the 6th, 5th, and 4th centuries BC, including armor and helmets, primarily from Attica, Corinth, and Chalcidice, were also part of the exhibition. The journey through millennia of Greek history culminated in the Byzantine period with a large silver plate and an image of the Virgin Mary.
Among the findings were two impressive statues, including the torso of a female figure and a better-preserved replica with the head. The estimated value of these objects is approximately $3.7 million. However, as emphasized by Konstantinos Konstantinou, the Consul General of Greece in New York, the true value of these artifacts is immeasurable, as they are integral to the historical and cultural heritage of Greece.
Vasiliki Papageorgiou, head of the Documentation and Protection of Cultural Heritage Department, provided detailed information about the archaeological objects, their dating, significance, and historical context.
Matthew Bogdanos recognized the efforts of Thomas Acocella, head of investigations and a special agent, and honored the entire Antiquities Trafficking Unit. Bogdanos has a long history of preserving objects of global cultural heritage, dating back to his service in the United States Marine Corps. During his time in Iraq, he assisted in saving numerous artifacts from looting and destruction at the National Museum of Baghdad. From his current position, he has dismantled antiquities trafficking networks, with similar ceremonies taking place for artifacts from various historical periods.
While Bogdanos is an advocate for the return of Greek antiquities, he refrained from taking a stance on the matter of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, as his role as an assistant district attorney of New York does not allow him to comment on matters beyond his jurisdiction.
Matthew Bogdanos also shared a personal connection to his Greek heritage, mentioning his father, who, like many first-generation immigrants, worked hard in restaurants. Every evening when his father returned home, he would often play the nostalgic song “White Day Will Come for Us,” a melody that holds a special place in the heart of this proud Greek-American.
In summary, Matthew Bogdanos continues to play a crucial role in repatriating Greek antiquities, preserving the cultural heritage of Greece, and fostering international cooperation in the fight against antiquities trafficking. His dedication to this cause has made him a respected figure both in the United States and Greece.