Antiques of the richest Bulgarian businessman confiscated by police

Added 2020-04-18 in by Kamil Kusztal

Antiques and illegal interests - Bulgarian gambler and businessman Vasily Bożkow was arrested, which put into question the future of his huge collection of antiques.


Vasil Bożkow is a gambling boss in Bulgaria, the owner of, among others three out of five lotteries throughout the country, the largest collection of antiques in the country, and a shareholder in over 700 companies in the Middle and Far East. After changes in legislation, Bożkow was accused of leading a criminal group, extortion and attempting to pay a bribe to an official, and an international arrest warrant was published behind him. He was found and arrested in the United Arab Emirates. Although Bulgaria has no signed extradition agreement with the Emirates, the Bulgarian general prosecutor ensures that the accused will return to the country and face justice. What then will happen to the great antique collection?

Wasil Bożkow - a gambler and art collector                                                                              

Vasily Bożkow collected his antiques for about 15 years. He collected over 3,000 items from the 4th century B.C. until the 6th century AD. The collection is richly documented and officially belongs to the foundation "Thrace" founded by the businessman. Many eminent archaeologists and historians worked in the organization. The collection consists of ceramics, marble and metal sculptures, a golden Thracian wreath and the largest rhyton collection in the world - traditional Thracian ritual vessels in the shape of a horn, intricately carved from gold and silver, ended with animal heads. Art experts value the collection at over EUR 1 billion.

Antiques - a victim of charges

When the arrest warrant for Bożkow was issued, antiques from the accused's collection were confiscated. According to employees of the foundation, policemen carried antiques in plastic bags and sacks. The organization reported the export of valuable works of art to UNESCO, but the Bulgarian prosecutor's office completely denied this. On the other hand, the Bulgarian Gallery of Fine Arts confirmed that she had received works from the Bożkow collection for storage.

The main objection to the businessman's collection concerns the identification and evaluation of works of art. According to national legislation, all collections are required to carry out such documentation. It turns out that out of a total of 3,000 works owned by Bożkow, official documents describe only 212 antiques. The problem of documentation of works may be due to their origin. According to the foundation, the businessman was buying illegally removed antiques from the country at international art works and bringing them back to Bulgaria. However, according to the Prosecutor General: "part of this collection - I hope this is not a larger part - was acquired, excavated, stolen on Bulgarian land.". Bulgarian media wrote about the connections of Bożkow representatives with the world of illegal treasure hunters, but did not provide evidence for them. Let us hope that antiques valuable for history and art will not fall victim to the judicial process.

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