Of the more than 250 ancient artifacts that the United States returned to the Italian state, 145 came from an English antiquities dealer. The items were stolen in the 1990s from archaeological excavations in Italy, the BBC reported on Saturday.
The oldest item comes from the period of the Willanow culture, which flourished in the 10th century BC. The recovered artefacts also include items from the Etruscan culture (7th century BC – 1st century AD, Greece (3rd century BC – 3rd century AD) and the Roman Empire (until 476 AD). Some mosaics can be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Most of the artifacts were stolen in the 1990s and then sold by dealers to collectors. The Italian Ministry of Culture reported that some of the artifacts were purchased by the Menila Collection at a museum in Houston, Texas, but a museum spokesman vehemently denied this, claiming that the museum received them as a gift. However, Italian authorities said the owner of the collection “spontaneously” returned the items after police told him they came from illegal excavations at archaeological sites.
They came from bankruptcy proceedings
Italy’s culture ministry also said the 145 items returned came from insolvency proceedings against English antiquities dealer Robin Symes, who had amassed thousands of items as part of a network of illegal art dealers.
Italy they have long sought to track down the antiquities stolen in the country and sold to private collectors and museums. In September 2022 USA returned $19 million worth of stolen art to Italy, including a 200 BC marble head of the goddess Athena, valued at $3 million.
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