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New York justice returns 14 looted works of antiquity to Italy


New York justice returned Thursday, February 2 to Italy 14 looted and stolen works of art, some dating from Roman and Greek antiquity,...

New York justice returned Thursday, February 2 to Italy 14 looted and stolen works of art, some dating from Roman and Greek antiquity, worth 2.5 million dollars and which made the trafficked internationally to the United States.

New York State justice has been carrying out a vast campaign for more than two years to restore antiquities looted from around twenty countries, which have landed in museums and galleries in the megalopolis, including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Led by Manhattan Borough Attorney Alvin Bragg, more than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned over the past year to 17 countries, including Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Greece or Italy.

The 14 works - some 2,600 years old - returned Thursday, during a ceremony with the Italian consul general Fabrizio Di Michele and the Italian carabinieri, are part of a lot of 214 pieces (with a total value of 35 million dollars) returned to Rome in the past seven months, welcomed in a press release the services of the prosecutor Bragg.

The Manhattan borough prosecutor's office has had a unit to combat international antiquities trafficking since 2017, as New York has been a hub for it for decades.

Grave robber gangs

According to the statement, the 14 returned works – including a silver Tetradrachm coin from Naxos in Sicily from 430 BC and a marble head of Emperor Hadrian from 200 AD –

“had been stolen and subject to a trafficked by known (Italian) art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina and Robert Hecht”

, an American art dealer based in Paris who died in 2012. These men

“relyed on gangs of grave robbers to steal from sites archaeological sites well chosen because poorly protected, around the Mediterranean”

, denounced the New York justice.

The most emblematic case of art traffickers in New York is the collector Michael Steinhardt, who in 2021 had to return around 180 antiques stolen in recent decades, worth 70 million dollars.

An amicable agreement with the American justice allowed him to escape an indictment but prohibits him for life from acquiring works on the legal art market.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-02-03

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