Among the pieces found and returned: a vase from the Italian region of Puglia from 335 BC and two Etruscan-era tile paintings
New York justice returned to Italy on Tuesday, August 8, looted and sold 42 archaeological works worth $3.5 million in contraband, the American city being the center of the international antiquities trade. The 42 exceptional pieces – some 2,500 years old – were returned to Italian authorities by US investigators during a ceremony in New York, according to a press release from New York State Attorney for the District of Manhattan Alvin Bragg.
“We continue to repair the damage caused by decades of highly organized networks of antiquities smugglers throughout Italy”Alvin Bragg welcomed and elaborated “More than 200 guns were returned” in Rome since taking over the Manhattan Prosecutor’s Office in 2022. Carabinieri General Vincenzo Molines greeted “a great success of the investigation thanks to Italian-American cooperation”.
Campaign to return looted cannons
Among the pieces found and returned was a vase from Italy’s Puglia region dating back to 335 BC. According to the New York Justice Department, it was stolen from a burial site in southern Italy before being smuggled abroad by Italian art dealer Giacomo Medici. . This chalice, which was used to mix water and wine, received a “the disgraced British art dealer, Robin Symes, who later released him through (auction company) Sotheby’s in London”. The work was seized in July from a private collector in New York. Two Etruscan-era tile paintings, dating from 440 BC, were looted in central Italy in the 1980s before ending up in the possession of Robin Symes, who sold them for $1.6 million in 1992 to several New York collectors, Shelby White and Leon Left. Concerned about the provenance of the works, White and Levy returned them to Symes in 1999, who kept them in New York until last March.
In the cultural and economic capital of the United States, the kingdom of grandiose museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the rich auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the Manhattan Prosecutor’s Office is campaigning for the restitution of works looted from around the world between 1970 and 1990, sold smuggled in Europe and the United States and seized in museums and private collections in New York. Under the auspices of Attorney Bragg, more than 1,000 coins worth $185 million were returned to 19 countries, including Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Greece, Turkey, and Italy.