Following a ceremony on Wednesday in New York in which they were handed over to Italian officials, another 142 stolen Italian antiquities that had been seized in the previous year by investigators in Manhattan are currently en route to the new Museum of Rescued Art in Rome. The ceremony took place in New York.
A painting that was taken from the famous archaeological site at Herculaneum, which was a town that was buried beneath volcanic ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, is one of the pieces that have been returned. The fresco has an estimated worth of nearly $14 million. It is known as the Ercolano Fresco and portrays a young Hercules choking a serpent. It was taken from the collection of Michael H. Steinhardt, who was a pioneer in the field of hedge funds, last year.
Mr. Steinhardt turned over 180 things, including a fresco with an estimated worth of one million dollars, after it was discovered by authorities in Italy and Manhattan that the items had been fraudulently sold on the art market after having been stolen. Mr. Steinhardt, who is 81 years old, had purchased it from a dealer named Robert Hecht, who is suspected of engaging in illegal trafficking. As part of the agreement to close the case, Mr. Steinhardt has consented to a lifelong prohibition on the acquisition of antiquities.
Officials from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said that Mr. Steinhardt was responsible for the recovery of 48 of the 142 items that were returned on Wednesday. According to the officials, another sixty of the objects were seized from the Royal-Athena Galleries in Manhattan, which is known as a leading trader in Greco-Roman antiques.
The antiquities were returned during a repatriation ceremony that took place at the district attorney’s office. The ceremony was attended by Fabrizio Di Michele, who is Italy’s consul general in New York. He stated that the antiquities would be added to the many pieces that are already on display at the Museo dell’Arte Salvata, also known as the Museum of Rescued Art. This museum was recently opened as a showcase for repatriated antiquities and other
The Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Rome District Attorney’s Office was responsible for seizing a good number of the stolen artefacts that are presently on exhibit in Rome.
“These treasures deserve a position in their birthplace, where the people of Italy may collectively enjoy the grandeur of their country’s history,” said Alvin L. Bragg Jr., the district attorney for Manhattan, in a statement. There are simply too many significant cultural objects that are being unlawfully plundered and smuggled in different parts of the world.
Officials added that among the artefacts that were found were three fresco paintings that had been taken from Paestum, an ancient Greek city that is situated in southern Italy. The paintings dated back to the fourth century B.C. Looters removed the paintings off the wall of a tomb. The paintings, which represent images of grieving ladies, were taken from the tomb. A pithos, also known as a storage jar, dating back to 700 B.C., which is close to the period when Rome was established, was uncovered as well.