Looted Roman statue is spotted by chance in antique shop


Italian art detectives have spotted a lost Roman statue looted 10 years ago. Where did they see it? In a Belgian antique store. And in addition, the men were not in service at the time!

Crime never sleeps and artistic crime is no different it seems. Last month, 2 members of the TPC (Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) were in Brussels on other business.

Deciding to drop by an antique store during their downtime, they noticed an intriguing sight. The headless statue, clad in a toga – now identified as “Togatus” or “Civil” – set off an alarm bell for the pair. A quick check of the database revealed the startling truth.

Togatus moved away from the Italian archaeological site of Villa Marina Dettina in 2011. The piece dates back to the 1st century BC. An listed price of $ 120,000 makes this a hot item in more ways than one.

As NPR noted, the statue “bore the characteristic damage of excavation tools.”

The team photographed themselves with Togatus in early February. The detectives wore face masks. The statue did not need it for obvious reasons.

Detectives stand with missing Roman stature, dating from the 1st century BC. Image from the Italian Ministry of Culture.

The surveys focus on a single individual. BBC News describes them as an “Italian trader using a Spanish pseudonym”. The mysterious figure, who allegedly exported Togatus, has been referred to prosecutors.

Meanwhile, the statue is back in Italy. NPR reveals how Togatus received a full gown made of bubble wrap and duct tape.

The Associated Press reports on the work undertaken by the TPC. Italian statues and other antiques “have found their way into private collections, famous museums and commercial antique shops around the world.”

NPR writes that efforts to rescue the art of TPC spanned decades. In addition to traffic, they also travel during times of natural disaster to collect priceless works. The outlet mentions that 137,000 coins with a staggering value of $ 500 million were collected in 2014.

ARTnews reports another Carabinieri success story. It was a painting by Nicolas Poussin that ended up in the hands of the Nazis.

They also refer to a new book, “Ruling Culture: Art Police, Tomb Robbers and the Rise of Cultural Power in Italy” by Fiona Greenland. Publishing the book, the University of Chicago Press writes that in seeking to regain control of its artifacts, the country has “turned heritage into heritage capital – a powerful and controversial convergence of art, money. and politics ”.

In addition, the famous Torlonia marbles are on display to the public in Rome. Seen for the first time in about 70 years, the marbles belong to the Torlonia family.

As reported by CBS News, this aristocratic clan has built up a truly enviable art collection across the generations. 94 copies have been selected for viewing, although some 620 pieces are in the overall lineup.

The scale of the exposure, kept behind closed doors for so long, has baffled experts. Quoted by CBS, archaeologist Darius Arya calls it “the largest private collection of ancient Roman antiquity.”

We also note the status of the collection as a “history of restoration techniques”. How? ‘Or’ What?

The mystery is now… where did the head of the Roman statue go?  Image from the Italian Ministry of Culture.

The mystery is now… where did the head of the Roman statue go? Image from the Italian Ministry of Culture.

“Whereas today we left fragments, in the past the style was to reconstruct what was missing.” In other words, 21st century experts are looking at the pieces of the puzzle. At the time, they attempted to complete it themselves.

CBS writes that the process of getting The Marbles around the world was complex. Relations between state and family have fallen into limbo, with factors such as cost and divergent intentions cited.

A tantalizing glimpse of the treasures was provided by Prince Alessandro Torlonia in 1880. He produced a photographed and numbered catalog where people could get a feel for what was largely hidden.

Whether kept at home or retrieved from looters abroad, Italian antiquity has become a fascinating slice of ancient history in the modern world.

Another article from us: These important ancient cities are lost in time … Where are they?

There is an open question regarding the recovered Togatus. While it’s good to put it back in its place, what happened to the head? A case that even the TPC could probably not solve …


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