Manhattan District Attorney's Office returning dozens of artifacts to Italy

Manhattan District Attorney’s Office returning dozens of artifacts to Italy

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NEW YORK — Officials are making things right in the art world. Dozens of artifacts stolen overseas are going back home.

CBS2’s Jessica Moore has more on what was taken and how the pieces are being returned.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is the last place you’d expect to see 58 historical artifacts, but they aren’t just any artifacts. They were all stolen from Italy and trafficked into the U.S.

“We are so honored to repatriate these items back to their home country of Italy,” said Lisa Del Piso, chief of the DA’sTrial Division.

Twenty one of the pieces were seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week, in a joint effort by the NYPD and the DA’s office to right a wrong.

“The antiquities we returned today were ripped from their country to be smuggled across borders by those seeking profit. Looters stole these treasures from Italy and imported them into the United States” said Michael Alfonso of the Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, Ken Wine, the Met’s chief communications officer, said, “The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been fully supportive of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation and of the return of these object to Italy, based on information recently made available to the Met.”

One of the most significant pieces being returned is the marble head of Athena, which was looted from a temple in central Italy and eventually landed at the Met.

“I thank U.S. authorities for their outstanding cooperation,” said Gen. Roberto Riccardi of Italy’s Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

The artifacts are valued at $19 million, but to Riccardi their worth is priceless.

“I have very good feelings about the fact that these objects will go back to the community, to people, to students, to youngsters who will know where we come from, about our history, about our identity,” Riccardi said.

With the signing of an official repatriation document, the stolen antiquities are now going home.

Dozens of artifacts stolen at one time from Egypt will be returned Wednesday.

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