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Italy repatriates looted ancient artefacts from U.S.

Some of the antiquities returned to Italy from U.S. are displayed during a ceremony in New York, U.S., August 8, 2023. Carabinieri/Handout via REUTERS

Italy said it repatriated 266 ancient artefacts 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 artefact smugglers.

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

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

Pictures provided by the Italian culture ministry show the artefacts 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.

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

A further 65 artefacts belonged to the Menil Collection museum in the U.S. city of Houston, which decided to return them to Italy after police established they came from clandestine excavations in Italian archaeological sites and were illegally exported, the statement said.

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