142 artifacts looted expatriates in Italy after investigation in New York

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Dozens of looted artifacts, some dating back to the 4th century BC, made their way to a rescued art museum in Rome after investigators in New York seized the pieces and returned them to Italy this week.

Among the 142 antiquities found as part of a criminal investigation, there is a fresco dating from the year 50 and coming from an ancient city buried under volcanic ash during the eruption of Vesuvius.

The painting was looted in 1995 from a villa in the archaeological site of Herculaneum, and hedge fund billionaire Michael Steinhardt, a prolific art collector, bought it for $650,000 that year, according to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney.

The Ercolano fresco, showing a baby Hercules strangling a snake, is valued at $1 million and is part of the collection of salvaged items worth around $14 million.

Exhibits include a storage jar from 700 BC and three fresco pieces dating from the 4th century and depicting grieving women. The frescoes came from an ancient Greek city in southern Italy. Thieves have hacked off paintings from the wall of a tomb, New York officials said.

The objects will find a new home at Rome’s Museum of Rescued Art, which opened last month in the Italian capital to display recovered artifacts before they are returned to areas where they were looted or lost.

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After Italian and American investigators traced the doctored art to Steinhardt’s collection, he relinquished 180 items, including fresco sections, late last year and agreed to a lifetime ban to buy antiques.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said 48 of the artifacts returned to Italy at a ceremony in New York on Wednesday were from Steinhardt and another 60 were recovered from New York art dealer Royal-Athena. Galleries.

“These artifacts deserve a place in their homeland, where the people of Italy can enjoy together the wonders of their country’s past,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

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