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Italy seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record haul

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Antiquities recovered by Italian Carabinieri, military police, are displayed at Terme di Diocleziano museum during a press conference in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Italian authorities have unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities illegally looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses belonging to an accused Sicilian art dealer. The carabinieri police's art squad estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, kraters, bronze statues and frescoes at some 50 million euros. The works, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., were laid out Wednesday at the National Roman Museum and may go on public display. Carabineri Gen. Mariano Mossa said it was "by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of archaeological treasures." They were found during an investigation into Basel-based art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, accused by prosecutors of being part of a huge trafficking network. (AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Ansa)

Antiquities recovered by Italian Carabinieri, military police, are displayed at Terme di Diocleziano museum during a press conference in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Italian authorities have unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities illegally looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses belonging to an accused Sicilian art dealer. The carabinieri police’s art squad estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, kraters, bronze statues and frescoes at some 50 million euros. The works, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., were laid out Wednesday at the National Roman Museum and may go on public display. Carabineri Gen. Mariano Mossa said it was “by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of archaeological treasures.” They were found during an investigation into Basel-based art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, accused by prosecutors of being part of a huge trafficking network. (AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Ansa)

 
 
22 January 2015
AFP

 

The Italian government said police had seized more than 5,000 ancient artefacts in a record 45-million-euro haul after dismantling a Swiss-Italian trafficking ring.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said it was the country’s “largest discovery yet” of looted works and consisted of 5,361 pieces, including vases, jewellery, frescoes and bronze statues, all dating from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century AD. 

The archaeological treasures came from illegal digs across Italy and “will be returned to where they were found”, the minister told reporters.

Police said the items were worth around 45 million euros ($52 million) and were sold across the world with forged certificates of authenticity.

The hoard was discovered as part of an investigation into Italian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who owns an art gallery in Switzerland, and his Swiss wife.

The probe, which also involved Swiss police, revealed the existence of a sophisticated smuggling network between the two countries and prompted raids on several warehouses in Basel where hundreds of artefacts were recovered.

Carabinieri general Mariano Mossa, who heads a special Italian police unit specialising in stolen art, said the looted works were sent to Switzerland to be restored before being sold in Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan and Australia using counterfeit provenance papers.

Becchina was detained by Italian police while his wife was arrested by Swiss police.

The Italian authorities have promised to put the artefacts found in the raids on display to the public.

Read the original article here.

Posted in: The Cultural Front

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