by Mario Masciullo - eTN Italy
Sixty archaeological finds for a value of 20 million dollars, have returned to Italy from the United States, marketed by international traffickers.
This is thanks to an operation carried out by the Carabinieri for protecting cultural heritage together with the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DAO).
“The nucleus is an excellence made up of highly professional men and women, but also with a heart and awareness of the strategic value for Italy of these assets which would never have returned to Italy if it hadn’t been for this determination.
“What happened results from a choral activity and an international collaboration.”
Italy Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, who presented the works together with the American authorities in the Spadolini Hall of the Roman College (the Police department), added: “Much more will have to be done on this front. There are also other things that we want to ensure the return of, and collaboration is the right path.”
AMONG THE WORKS, A POMPEIAN FRESCO FROM THE 1st CENTURY
The works had been offered for sale by some Italian art brokers and then merged into US private collections, such as that of one of the largest ancient art collectors in the world, to whom it was even imposed for the first time of its kind, a lifetime ban on the purchase of antiquities following the multi-year multinational criminal investigation conducted by the DAO.
Among the most precious finds stolen and placed on the illicit market was a Pompeian fresco depicting “Child Hercules with snake” from the 1st century in addition to Christ, a marble head of Athena, a kylix with a white background, and a bronze bust.
SGARBI’S DOUBTS: “THERE MAY BE FAKES”
“Among these works there may be forgeries.”
This was stated by Vittorio Sgarbi, Undersecretary for Culture, referring to the 60 archaeological finds returned to Italy from the USA where they had been illegally placed on the market. “In addition to the grave robber, there are also the forger, as in the area of Tarquinia and Civitacastellana, … people who make forgeries that are seized and eventually returned.
“There is a famous forger called Homer, who died recently, who has pupils who are probably the authors of at least one or 2 vases that are exhibited there; then there is also a sculpture. Which then doesn’t mean anything; it’s not that in itself that the action is wrong, but it indicates the margin of uncertainty of this action.”
However, on the sidelines of the press conference, the US and Carabinieri authorities announced that there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the finds.
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