266 Antiquities Seized in US Returned to Italy

Monday, August 14, 2023
266 Antiquities Seized in US Returned to Italy

Police from the art unit of Italy's carabinieri paramilitary force said that the owner of the collection "spontaneously" returned the items after investigators determined that they had originated from secret and illegal excavations of archaeological sites.

Italy has successfully repatriated more than 250 ancient artifacts from the United States that were originally smuggled out and sold by an international network during the late 1990s, following a discovery by police that they were stolen.

A total of 266 relics, worth millions of dollars and including items seized from a New York storage unit belonging to British antiquities dealer Robin Symes and others returned by collectors who were duped into buying the ill-gotten goods, have been welcomed back by Italy, said officials.

A specialist unit of Italy's carabinieri police said the return of the treasure trove of items was due to cooperation between Italian and US judicial authorities.

With some dating back 3,000 years, the collection of culturally significant items encompasses precious pots, paintings, sculptures, and mosaics, reported Reuters news agency.

The historical timespan represented is vast, spanning from the Villanovan age to the Etruscan civilization, Magna Graecia, and all the way to Imperial Rome.

Images shared by the Italian Ministry of Culture last week showed the artifacts on display at a New York restitution ceremony.

Officials said several of the mosaics are worth tens of millions of euros, and are among antiques and artifacts that Italy has been long seeking to retrieve.

The haul, which has now arrived in Rome, includes 65 objects that had been offered by a collector to Houston's Menil Collection, but were declined, said a statement from Italian authorities.

Image : Some of the antiquities returned from the US to Italy are displayed at a handover ceremony last week in New York after Italian police discovered they were looted and sold to US collectors. ITALIAN CARABINIERI/AP

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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