Art, works stolen from Italy and ended up in US museums return home

Art, works stolen from Italy and ended up in US museums return home

from Paolo Conti

The estimated value of ten million dollars. The official announcement, in New York, on September 6 after six months of investigations and seizures in the collections of the Metropolitan

It will be an unforgettable September in the history of the restitution of works of art stolen illegally from Italy, purchased on the illegal international market, and returned from large US museums or seized from private American collections. US investigators press conference at the District Attorney Office on Tuesday 6 September in New York (DAO) of Manhattan to announce the results of six months of investigations and seizures in the collections of the prestigious Met-Metropolitan Museum in New York. They have been 27 works of art, 6 of which Egyptian, were taken (worth $ 3.2 million) and 21 Italians (10 million). The anticipation of the New York Times he reconstructed the Italian itinerary. Many objects passed through the hands of the trafficker Gianfranco Becchina, owner of an art gallery in Switzerland, a cement entrepreneur, under investigation since 2001, who in May had all his assets confiscated, including the eighteenth-century palace of the Tagliavia Aragona Pignatelli princes. The Met, the investigators said, has fully collaborated in the investigations that have seen protagonists, from Italy, the carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection command led by General Roberto Riccardi.

The list

Riccardi explains: Among the most precious works, a terracotta Kylix from 470 BC, valued at 1.5 million dollars, a head of Athena from the 2nd century BC, 3 million, and a young man’s head from the 2nd century BC, 1.5 million. A 400 BC terracotta statuette of a Greek deity was a gift made in 2000 by Robin Symes, a British antiquarian involved in the illegal sale of a giant Aphrodite purchased in 1998 by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and then returned to Italy in 2007. But General Riccardi also anticipates more: In New York we will also recover a batch of other 58 pieces seized from important private US collections, and always linked to illicit trafficking, therefore clandestine export and receiving stolen goods. Everything will return to Italy within two months and will be exhibited in the Museum of Salvated Art in the Octagonal room of the Baths of Diocletian at the National Roman Museum.

The next step

Riccardi, after New York, will stop in Los Angeles to bring back to Italy (as already announced days ago on the Corriere della Sera
) the Magna Graecia sculptural group Orpheus and the Sirens from the 4th century BC, stolen in clandestine excavations in the Taranto area in the 1970s of the last century, sold to the Getty Museum and now returned to Italy. The investigations were followed in Italy by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Taranto. This group will also be exhibited as early as September 15 at the Museum of Salvated Art in view of its relocation from the territory of origin, therefore Taranto. But that’s not all. Another 142 pieces will be returned, already recovered from December 2021 and which have been exhibited at the Consulate General of New York: they too will be visible in the Octagonal room of the Baths of Diocletian.

The reactions

Says the Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini: A great recovery, the result of an important international collaboration which, once again, sees the command of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage as protagonist. A flagship of which we must be proud. Even these works, after a temporary passage in the Museum of Saved Art, will return to their territories. They will not end up, as has happened so many times in the past, all in one large museum but will be returned to their places of origin so as to be exhibited there. in short, radically the attitude of the great American museums towards goods purchased from illicit trafficking has changed: a season of full cooperation, different from the years in which the path of restitution was full of obstacles and legal hostilities.

September 4, 2022 (change September 4, 2022 | 11:07 am)

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