Museum of Rescued Art presents stolen relics that are returned to Italy | Italy


A museum featuring dozens of relics stolen from cultural sites in Italy and trafficked to the United States has opened in Rome.

About 100 of the 260 Etruscan, Greek and Roman objects that are being gradually returned to Italy have been exhibited as part of the first exhibition at the Museum of Rescued Art, which is housed in a space among the ruins of the ancient Baths of Diocletian.

The items on display, which include figurines, statues, urns, plates and coins, will change in October as more looted art is returned to Italy and relics already on display are in turn returned where they are supposed to have been stolen from.

Many relics were looted in clandestine excavations by so-called tombaroli, or grave robbers, dating from the early 1980s, before being smuggled out of Italy. Pieces sold in America ended up in private collections, museums and auction houses. Among them was an ancient Roman sculpture that nearly ended up in the possession of Kim Kardashian.

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A white marble head of Roman Emperor Settimio Severo that was stolen in 1984 from a museum in Italy’s southern region of Campania was found in June 2020 as it was about to be put on auction at Christie’s in New York.

The Italian Cultural Heritage Protection Team was established in 1969 and has since recovered over 3 million stolen objects.

“Stolen works of art and archaeological remains that are illegally dispersed, sold or exported constitute a significant loss for the country’s cultural heritage,” said Dario Franceschini, Italy’s Minister of Culture. “Protecting and enhancing these treasures is an institutional duty, but also a moral commitment: we must assume this responsibility for future generations.


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