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Belgium’s 'L’Echo' reported that 30 archaeological and tribal artworks were seized at the BRAFA fair in Brussels. Image: Fabrice Debatty.

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The seizures were a joint operation between Interpol and the Service Public Fédéral Économie on January 27.

According to the organiser of BRAFA, the investigation represents part of a “routine check”.

In a statement it said: “This is a usual procedure which takes place regularly at the various trade fairs in Belgium and abroad.

BRAFA has always worked with the various administrative services.”

It was reported in Belgium’s L’Echo that 30 archaeological and tribal artworks were seized pending further information.

Not on display

BRAFA said the items seized had not been on display at the Tour & Taxis exhibition complex and had been vetted off the stands of dealers prior to the fair opening.

The statement added: “Following the internal appraisal procedure, these objects were stored in a reserve area closed to both the public and exhibitors throughout the duration of the show.

“This vetting procedure is in force at all international fairs and is based both on an assessment of authenticity and on the guarantee of its provenance, but also on its intrinsic artistic quality.”

The fair ran until February 2 and hosted 133 exhibitors offering items across a variety of disciplines including antiquities, Contemporary art, antique furniture, Old Masters, 19th century paintings and jewellery.