Italy welcomes antiques from smuggled American museums
Italy’s Culture Minister on Thursday hailed the return of 201 prized antiques worth more than 10 million euros ($ 11 million) that were in prestigious American museums and galleries after being the subject of ‘illegal trafficking in recent decades.
They were among thousands of antiques seized from traffickers or returned to Italy this year in major operations that also targeted trafficking networks in Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.
Of the 201 works returned by the American authorities at the beginning of the month, 161 have been repatriated to Italy while 40 are on display at the Italian Consulate General in New York until March 2022.
“These works of art will not end up, as has happened several times in the past, in a single large museum,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said at a press conference. Instead, they will be sent back to the places where they were stolen for display in museums.
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“It is also a great homecoming operation that will add value to our extraordinary country as a vast museum. These are works of art of absolute importance that will attract people to these places and territories, ”said Franceschini.
The American transport includes 96 pieces that were part of the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art’s collection, including ancient pottery and amphorae; a titled terracotta statue dating from the 4th century BC. AD seized in a New York gallery; and six objects returned from the Getty Museum, including a large Etruscan ceramic vase.
Most of the stolen cache was attributed to the activities of Edoardo Almagia, a native Italian who lived in New York City. Charges against him in Italy in 2006 were dropped due to the statute of limitations, but in 2013 a judge in Rome ordered the seizure of all of his antiques in New York and Naples. He is still on the run in Italy, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
One major operation secured nearly 800 objects from ancient Daunia, located on the Gargano Peninsula in northern Puglia, while another broke a network of trafficking artefacts from southern Italian civilizations operating in northern Europe. Thirteen people are under investigation in this case, which has led to the recovery of 2,000 artifacts.
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The publication Italy Welcomes Antiques from American Museums Trafficked Home first appeared on Vanguard News.