Italy repatriates looted ancient artifacts worth millions of euros from the US

Italy said it repatriated 266 ancient artifacts worth tens of millions of euros from the United States, where they had been brought and sold during the late 1990s by an international network of artifact smugglers.

The items, the oldest of which date back to the 9th century BC, include works belonging to the periods of the Etruscan civilization, Magna Graecia and Imperial Rome.

A statement from a specialist unit of Italy’s carabinieri police on Friday said the return of the artifacts was due to the cooperation between Italian and US judicial authorities.

Pictures provided by the Italian culture ministry show the artifacts include several painted pots, the head of a statue and some coins, which were displayed at a restitution ceremony earlier this week in New York.

The statement said 145 pieces were recovered as part of bankruptcy proceedings against an antiquities dealer.

The Italian statement said a further 65 artifacts had come from the Menil Collection museum in the US city of Houston.

However, a spokesperson for the museum said it had been offered the artifacts as a gift but had referred the donor to the Italian Minister of Culture who alerted the museum that Italy was claiming the objects.

“The Menil Collection declined these works from the collector and they have never been part of the museum’s collection,” the spokesperson said.

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