Sew La Ti Embroidery + [USA]

Southern Europe: US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
The United States on Tuesday officially returned 25 artifacts looted over the decades from Italy, including Etruscan vases, 1st-century frescoes and precious books that ended up in U.S. museums, universities and private collections.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
A third century B.C. terracotta head, left, and a second century Roman bronze 
figure representing Mars, are shown during a press conference in Rome,
 Tuesday, May 26, 2015 [Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

Italy has been on a campaign to recover looted artifacts, using the courts and public shaming to compel museums and collectors to return them, and has won back several important pieces.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
A first century B.C. fresco taken from Pompeii is displayed during a press conference
 in Rome, Tuesday, May 26, 2015 [Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

The items returned Tuesday were either spontaneously turned over to U.S. authorities or seized by police after investigators noticed them in Christie's and Sotheby's auction catalogues, gallery listings, or as a result of customs searches, court cases or tips. One 17th-century Venetian cannon was seized by Boston border patrol agents as it was being smuggled from Egypt to the U.S. inside construction equipment, police said.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
A Carabinieri Italian paramilitary police officer stands next to ancient artifacts 
returned to Italy by The United States, on display in a Rome Carabinieri barracks, 
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 [Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

U.S. Ambassador John Phillips joined Italy's carabinieri art police to show off the haul. It included Etruscan vases from the Toledo Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 17th-century botany books from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a manuscript from the 1500s stolen from the Turin archdiocese in 1990 that ended up listed in the University of South Florida's special collections.


"Italy is blessed with a rich cultural legacy and therefore cursed to suffer the pillaging of important cultural artifacts," Phillips said, adding that Interpol estimates the illicit trade in cultural heritage produces more than $9 billion in profits each year.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
An ancient Etruscan 'Kalpis', a vase dated 500 B.C., right, is displayed 
during a press conference in Rome, Tuesday, May 26, 2015 
[Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

Police said several of the items were allegedly sold by Italian dealers Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina, both convicted of trafficking in plundered Roman artifacts. After the objects were recovered, Italian authorities confirmed their provenance.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
A detail of the lid of a second century Roman marble sarcophagus, representing a woman,
 is seen as it's displayed during a press conference in Rome, Tuesday, May 26, 2015
 [Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

Police stressed that most collectors and museums willingly gave up the artifacts after learning they had been stolen. The Minneapolis museum director contacted the Italian culture ministry after reading an article about one suspect piece, police said.

US returns 25 looted artefacts to Italy
An Italian Carabiniere paramilitary police officer stands next to an uncredited
 first century fresco, displayed during a press conference in Rome, Tuesday, 
May 26, 2015 [Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino]

Phillips praised the collaboration between Italy's police and U.S. Homeland Security and border patrol agents. He also said the U.S. had returned more than 7,600 objects to over 30 countries and foreign citizens since 2007.

Author: Nicole Winfield | Source: The Associated Press [May 26, 2015]