Seven stolen and looted objects of Italian cultural heritage will soon be on their way back to Italy, following a ceremony today in which U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano officially returned the antiquities to Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero at the Embassy of Italy in Washington. Napolitano said that as the great granddaughter of an Italian it was a proud moment for her to return the stolen art objects to Italy.
Two 2,000-year-old ceramic vessels, one Roman marble sculpture, one Renaissance painting and three music sheets from choir books dating back to the 13th century were recovered during four investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. All four of the investigations involved the collaboration of ICE’s offices in New York and Rome and Italy’s national police force, the Carabinieri.
“The United States and the Department of Homeland Security are proud to honor our commitments to our ally, Italy,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We will continue to work to ensure cultural artifacts and treasures that were stolen and entered this country illegally are recovered and returned to their rightful home nations.”
“The return of several important stolen works of art to Italy marks a new step in the fruitful bilateral collaboration between Italy and the United States. It is an event that falls within the framework of a well consolidated partnership in which our two countries successfully work side by side against all forms of criminal activity,” said Ambassador Bisogniero. “Given the quality of some of the antiquities that have been returned,” continued the ambassador, “the ceremony held today at the embassy should also be viewed as a chapter of the vital cultural relationship between Rome and Washington.”
“The operational success of the investigations made it possible not only to return important masterpieces to the Italian State which had been stolen from its national cultural heritage but, once again, highlights the fruitful and close co-operation which exists between the Protection of Cultural Heritage Carabinieri’s Headquarters and U.S. authorities in their common endeavor to rebuild and hand down to posterity,” said Commander of Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage General B. Pasquale Muggeo. (CiaoWashington!, April 26, 2012)