New York Returns 14 Artifacts To Italy

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Image: Reuters/Marilyn Torres Santiago
The handover ceremony was held in the presence of the Italian Consul General and representatives of the police, who received 14 artifacts, some dating back about 2,600 years, that were returned to Italy, bringing the total number of artifacts returned to the country during the past seven months to 214 pieces, according to the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin. Prague.
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 Authorities in New York State announced the return of 14 antiquities to Italy, valued at approximately $2.5 million, as part of a criminal investigation into the smuggling of stolen antiquities.

The Prague office indicated in a statement that “more than 700 items worth more than $100 million were returned last year to 17 countries, including Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Greece and Italy.”

According to the statement, the pieces that were returned included a silver coin known as the “Sicilian Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BC, and currently worth half a million dollars. 

Other notable pieces include ancient pottery dating back to 510 BC, and a marble head of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating back to 200 AD.

Over the past two years, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has carried out a massive campaign to recover looted antiquities that ended up in New York museums and galleries, including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

The statement pointed out that among those involved in trafficking the 14 pieces that were returned were art smugglers Giacomo Medici, Giovanni Franco Becchina, and Robert Hecht, an American who lived in Paris and died in 2012.

The statement explained that the smugglers “relied on gangs of grave diggers to plunder carefully selected and inadequately guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean region.”

New York, a hub for trafficking in stolen antiquities for decades, established a task force in 2017 to investigate these illegal activities.

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