Authorities in New York have returned several dozen stolen antiquities worth nearly $3.5 million to Italy, in a bid to combat the reputation as a key global hub for illegal art trade.
During a ceremony in New York, 42 exceptional pieces, dating back around 2,500 years, were handed over to Italian officials, according to a statement by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
“We continue to undo the damage caused by well-organized networks of antiquities smuggling across Italy for decades,” said Bragg, adding that over 200 antiquities have been repatriated to Italy since taking office in 2022.
Vincenzo Molinese, commander of the Carabinieri unit responsible for tackling illegal antiquities trade, hailed the significant success of the investigation, thanks to the collaboration between the US and Italy.
Among the discovered and returned items was a vase from the Apulia region in southern Italy, dating back to 335 BC.
Since 2017, New York prosecutors have repatriated pieces that were looted from around 20 countries between the 1970s and 1990s, including antiquities from Ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Iraq, China, India, and Southeast Asia.
Photo: Reuters /Brendan McDermid