U.S. Sends Smuggled Works, Including a Lelio Orsi Painting, Back to Italy

A painting by the 16th-century Italian painter Lelio Orsi, valued at $1.6 million, a Roman sculpture, two ceramic vessels and three music sheets that were smuggled out of Italy are returning home, according to Reuters. In a ceremony today in Washington, D.C., with United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano present, the U.S. returned the works to Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero.

The works had been recovered in four separate investigations headed up by U.S. officials. The Orsi painting showed the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, and was sold at Sotheby’s before the authorities realized it had been stolen.

The wire service also has this tantalizing bit of information:

Two of the four items returned on Thursday were linked to Italian national Gianfranco Becchina who has been accused of having ties to Italian organized crime and is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation by Italian officials.