Friday June 14, 2024

Italy recovers 750 stolen antiques from British dealer's hoard

Artefacts will be on exhibit in Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo museum along with other recovered items with an estimated value of more than $12.9 million

By Web Desk
June 04, 2023
This representational picture shows Italys looted antiquities on display in 2015. — Twitter/@AFP
This representational picture shows Italy's looted antiquities on display in 2015. — Twitter/@AFP

The Carabinieri art police announced Wednesday that notorious British antiquities dealer Robin Symes was forced to hand up almost 750 looted archaeological masterpieces following a long battle for their restitution.

The relics will be on exhibit in Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo museum as part of a collection of stolen works of art that have returned home, with an estimated value of more than €12 million ($12.9 million), CNN reported.

The Ministry of Culture said in a statement: "The objects offer a cross-section of the many productions of ancient Italy and the islands, including numerous and diversified archaeological contexts (funerary, cultural, residential, and public) concentrated in particular in Etruria and Magna Graecia."

The recovered items include a bronze tripod table, parade headgear, funerary paintings, male busts, statues, bronzes, gems, weapons, and several more valuable items.

According to the ministry, the artefacts were illegally acquired by Symes Ltd, a company run by Symes, a significant trafficker in cultural property, and come from "clandestine excavations on Italian territory."

"The company, which had always opposed the repeated recovery attempts by the Italian Judicial Authority and was subject to bankruptcy proceedings in the United Kingdom," said Italian Attorney General Lorenzo d’Ascia while addressing a press conference,

"It was also sued in Italy, through the Attorney General of the State, for the return of the goods or civil compensation for damages," he added.

Symes lost his reputation as a seller of priceless artefacts when a Swiss warehouse was seized in 2016. He further denied trafficking in illegal art, but was often investigated but never charged due to old statutes of limitations, the report said.

Furthermore, an additional 71 objects, currently in the United States, are expected to be seized in the next few days, Brigadier General Vincenzo Molinese, commander of the Carabinieri Art Squad, said.

The return of these 750 objects marks another success in Italy’s attempt to recover its stolen treasures. 

Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano said at the press conference: “The recovery of illicitly stolen cultural heritage is one of the priorities of my program; protecting it also means preventing our heritage from being plundered by unscrupulous traffickers.”