Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium is known for its unusual objects, such as the display shown at Ripley’s Times Square in New York City during its grand opening in 2007.
A massive trove of potentially stolen “artifacts” has been shipped from Sri Lanka, a country recovering from a civil war, to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! — a company known for its unusual objects.
The artifacts arrived by ship in Miami on May 15, 2019, and were then sent to Ripley’s Orlando headquarters. The shipment, which consisted of three containers holding 125 artifacts, weighed a total of 43,155 pounds (19,575 kilograms), according to a bill of lading obtained by Live Science. That weight may include material used to pack the artifacts.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! is a company that has a 25,000-piece artifact collection that focuses on all things unusual, including an elongated skull belonging to a Peruvian; shrunken human heads; the remains of several two-headed animals; and even an 8-foot-long (2.4 meters) portrait of Albert Einstein made out of toast. Some of these artifacts are displayed in “odditoriums” located around the world.
The bill of lading only describes the items in the shipment as artifacts, and a spokesperson for Ripley’s declined to comment about what these artifacts are.
Sri Lanka has been recovering from a lengthy civil war fought between the Sri Lanka government and a separatist group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The war raged from 1983 to 2009, when the government captured the last territory held by the Tigers. During and after the war ended, looting of archaeological sites has been an ongoing problem in Sri Lanka.
Were the Ripley’s artifacts acquired through looting? Nobody can say whether the artifacts were looted or illegally obtained.
The shipment was sent by a company called Innovative Studios Private Ltd., based in Bidadi, India. This company could not be reached for comment.
The company owns a large site called “Innovative Film City” in Bangalore, India, where a popular Indian reality show, “Bigg Boss,” is filmed. The film city also houses a number of tourist attractions, such as a “Tribal Museum,” a “Fossil Museum” and a wax museum. The film city was reportedly damaged by a fire in February 2018, according to news reports. It’s not clear if any of the artifacts shipped to Ripley’s came from that city.