On July 20, looted antiquities valued at $14 billion were returned to Italy in a repatriation ceremony, according to a press release from the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
“The repatriation of these 142 masterpieces, previously stolen or looted in Italy, is very important for our country,” said Consul General of Italy Fabrizio Di Michele in a statement.
Of these 142 antiquities, 48 were seized from Michael Steinhardt, a billionaire hedge fund manager and an ancient art collector at the heart of a multi-year investigation by the district attorney’s office. One of the pieces in question dates back to 50 C.E. and is known as the Ercolano Fresco, valued at $1 million and looted in 1995 from Herculaneum, an archaeological site buried under ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Three other repatriated fresco paintings were seized during other ongoing investigations, dating back to 4th century B.C.E. and ripped from tomb walls in southern Italy.
“Though the pieces being repatriated have a written price tag of millions of dollars, the historical, artistic, and cultural values attached to each of the relics are immeasurable and priceless. These artifacts deserve a place in their homeland, where the people of Italy can appreciate the marvels of their country’s past,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg.