Italy celebrates as 5,000 plundered artefacts worth €50m are returned

Italy is celebrating the greatest single recovery of its looted cultural patrimony after 5,361 ancient artifacts stolen by Italian and Swiss criminals were displayed by authorities in Rome, following a complex, 14-year criminal investigation.

The precious haul, said to be worth more than €50m (£38m), contains objects dating from the eighth century BC to the third century AD. “It is the largest recovery in history in terms of quantity and quality,” said General Mariano Mossa, the head of the Carabinieri cultural heritage protection division, the Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (TPC).

General Mossa said the stolen antiquities, recovered from warehouses in Switzerland, were to be restored there before being sold on to Germany, Britain, the US, Japan and Australia using forged ownership documents. Many of the recovered vases, jewels, frescoes and bronze statues, displayed to journalists at the National Roman Museum, are thought to have been removed from illegal digs in the southern regions of Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria.

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