US sends back to Italy treasure trove of ancient artifacts stolen by ‘grave robbers’

A treasure trove of ancient artifacts stolen by grave robbers and sold through shady auctions and art deals have been shipped back to Italy from the United States.

The 266 relics, valued at several million dollars, include items confiscated from a New York storeroom that once belonged to disgraced British antiques dealer Robin Symes, as well as artifacts returned by red-faced collectors linked to it were enticed to buy the ill-gotten goods.

About 65 of the objects had been offered for sale to the Menil Collection in Houston but were turned down.

“The Menil Collection rejected these works from the collector and they were never part of the museum’s collection,” Tommy Napier, a spokesman for Menil, told the Associated Press in a statement.

Looted artifacts – many of which were seized by Manhattan prosecutors in the Big Apple earlier this year – include an Apulian crater or vase dating to 335 BC. Chr.

The stolen vase ended up in the hands of Symes, who then “washed the piece at Sotheby’s London,” according to a statement from the Manhattan Attorney’s Office.

Stolen Antiques.
Artifacts returned include this Apulian krater or vase, dating to 335 BC. Chr.

Stolen Artifacts.
Italy has been trying to recover stolen antiques for decades.

The collection shipped to Italy also includes two Etruscan tile paintings from 440 BC. BC, looted from Cerveteri in north-western Rome, a place frequently targeted by archaeological crooks.

These tiles were stolen in the 1980s and ended up in the possession of Symes, who sold them to prominent New York collectors Shelby White and Leon Levy in 1992 for $1.6 million. The collectors returned them to Symes a few years later, upon learning that they were of illegal origin.

In another case last year, an unnamed collector tried to donate some of the ancient items in the Menil collection only to learn they had been stolen and were being sought by officials in Italy.

Italy has been trying to recover stolen antiques for decades.

With post wires


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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