Italy welcomes antiques smuggled home from US museums

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Italy’s culture minister on Thursday hailed the return of 201 valuable antiques valued at over 10 million euros ($ 11 million) found in prestigious U.S. museums and galleries following illicit trafficking over the past few decades.

They were among thousands of antiques seized from traffickers or returned to Italy that year.

Of the 201 works returned by US officials earlier this month, 161 have been repatriated to Italy, while 40 are on display at the Italian Consulate General in New York by March 2022.

“These works of art will not end up in a large museum, as has often happened in the past,” said Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini at a press conference. Instead, they are returned to the places where they were stolen for display in museums.

“This is also a great homecoming campaign that will add added value to our extraordinary country as a huge museum. It is works of art of absolute importance that attract people to these places and areas, ”said Franceschini.

The US loot includes 96 pieces that were in the collection of the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etrusk and Roman Art, including ancient pottery and amphorae; a terracotta statue with the title from the 4th century BC Chr. Confiscated from a New York gallery; and six items returned from the Getty Museum, including a large Etruscan ceramic vessel.

Most of the stolen cache was attributed to the activities of Edoardo Almagia, an Italian who lived in New York. Charges against him in Italy in 2006 were suspended for statute of limitations, but a judge in Rome ordered the confiscation of all his antiques in New York and Naples in 2013. According to the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, he remains at large in Italy.

One major operation secured nearly 800 objects from ancient Daunia, located on the Gargano Peninsula in northern Puglia, while another disbanded a ring of artifacts from southern Italian civilizations operating in northern Europe. In this case, 13 people are being investigated, which led to the recovery of 2,000 artifacts.


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