According to the Orange County RegisterÃ‚Â ”A federal search warrant was executed at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana this morning as part of a criminal investigation involving agents for the IRS”.Ã‚Â A spokesman for the IRS said that warrants were served at Bowers and other locations as part of an investigation involving the IRS, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the National Parks Service.Ã‚Â
According to the Los Angeles TimesÃ‚Â the raid was, “the first public move in a five-year investigation of an alleged smuggling pipeline that authorities say funneled looted Southeast Asian and Native American artifacts into local museums”.Ã‚Â Authorities allege that the Bowers along with Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego accepted, some “knowingly”, stolen artifacts.
According to the allegations made in the warrant, “A senior curator at the Bowers Museum, now deceased, regularly accepted loans of objects he knew were looted from Thailand and Native American graves. The museum’s current director, Peter Keller, also allegedly knew about the practice and had visitedÃ‚Â storage lockers where the looted items were kept. An appraiser claimed Keller participated in the donations scheme.”
Bowers Museum receives over $2,000,000 in Santa Ana taxpayer subsidies each year has long been a sore spot with many residents.Ã‚Â The people of Santa Ana shell out the money to operate the place and get very little in return.Ã‚Â Rather than focusing on art and history relative to Latin American culture and having exhibits that would be of interest to Santa Ana’s overwhelming Latino population, the folks at the Bowers have taken a elitestÃ‚Â Eurocentric approach in hopes of attracting a more “ethnically appealing” audience.
Mayor Miguel Pulido serves on the museums Board of GovernorsÃ‚Â and Councilman Carlos Bustamante serves on theÃ‚Â Presidents Advisory CouncilÃ‚Â for the museumÃ‚Â helping toÃ‚Â insure that the taxpayer subsidies keep flowing its way.Ã‚Â Both are good friends and major supportersÃ‚Â of Keller.Ã‚Â It will be interesting to see the outcome of the criminal probe and interesting to see what they knew and when they knew it.Ã‚Â Perhaps this will help lead to an end to the waste of taxpayer funds in regards to Bowers Museum and open up a further criminal probe into political corruption in Santa Ana.