Sep 7, 2022 - World

21 relics seized from Met among 58 artifacts returned to Italy

People weairng masks sit on the stairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on August 23, 2020 in New York City.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2020. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

In a repatriation ceremony, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday the return to Italy of 58 antiquities valued at nearly $19 million — including 21 artifacts seized from New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The big picture: Among the returned items is a marble head of the goddess Athena, which was looted from a temple and dates back to 200 BCE, and a drinking cup that was smuggled into Switzerland and dates to 470 BCE. Both items ended up at the Met.

A screenshot of an HSI New York Twitter image of stolen artefacts returned to Italy.
Photo: Homeland Security Investigations New York/Twitter

What they're saying: District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Tuesday the antiquities "represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets."

  • "For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership," Bragg said.
  • Ricky Patel, Homeland Security Investigations's New York acting special agent in charge, added the "treasures of incalculable cultural value" looted and smuggled from Italy were in several cases "passed on to unwitting collectors and museums, unaware of their specious provenance."

Meanwhile, Met spokesperson Ken Wine told CBS News the museum "has been fully supportive of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office investigation and of the return of these object to Italy, based on information recently made available to the Met."

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