FBI Artifact Raid in Indiana Proves Midwesterners Can be Sophisticated Too

Who doesn’t like a bit of elderly midwestern crime intrigue? This week an art crime FBI task force spent some quality time at the Indianian home of 91-year-old Don Miller, perusing through his immeasurably valuable private collection of thousands of cultural artifacts. This guy’s got everything: Native American, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Peruvian, Haitian, Australia and New Guinnean artifacts for starters. The items have been stored (and reportedly well-maintained) in Miller’s main residence, a second, unoccupied residence, and in several outbuildings. An anthropology professor who viewed the items said, “I have never seen a collection like this in my life except in some of the largest museums.” Not bad for an elderly Midwesterner.

The FBI has not charged Miller with any crime, but is checking through the collection to make sure none of the pieces are illegal to possess privately. They claim to know he at least improperly acquired some of the items.

It looks like the agents will have their hands full for the next several decades or so, since one artifact expert claimed it could be 30 years, “or never,” before the cataloging is complete. (An FBI spokesman ambiguously estimated it will be longer than “weeks or months.”) And people complain about lazy government bureaucrats?

For his part, Miller claims he is the rightful owner of all the pieces, saying he’s “been in 200 countries collecting artifacts” since his childhood. Anything to get away from Indiana winters, eh? Legal or not, I bet the natural history museums around the world—ever in competition for artifacts—are licking their lips hoping some of the collection comes their way.

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

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