Friday, August 1, 2008

Recovery of Italian Antiquities

Earlier this week the Italian Carabinieri announced the results of four successful operations. Some 33 antiquities were recovered; these had been either stolen from museums or looted from archaeological sites.

The four operations are:
  1. "Operazione on line" was launched in mid-July and employs some 20 staff who monitor internet sites for looted material. A member of the team spotted an Apulian red-figured plate that had been stolen from the Museo Bardini in Florence in December 1976. The piece had been offered by a dealer, Antonina in Rome.
  2. Herm of Silenus. This first century CE sculpture had been stolen from the Antiquarium at Santa Maria Capua Vetere in the late 1960s. It had apparently surfaced on the antiquities market in North America in 1987 when it was acquired by a now deceased private collector. The piece had been returned voluntarily by Sotheby's, New York in July 2007.
  3. Tivoli. A fourth century CE child's sarcophagus had been stolen from the store of the Tribunale of Tivoli in May 2004; it was in temporary storage due to the refurbishment of the building. It was then sold on the antiquities market.
  4. Parioli. The remaining thirty pieces were recovered from a tailor in Parioli, Rome. These appear to have been looted from archaeological sites in Campania and Puglia. Among them were two Subgeometric jars, and black-glossed cups. Some of the pieces had been used as window dressings. It brings a new meaning to the question, "would you like a classic cut to your suit, sir?"

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