More than 250 archaic artefacts have been returned to Italy by the US after being discovered as stolen by the police.
The objects were robbed and sold to US institutions and private collectors in the 1990s, according to the art unit of Italy’s police force.
Pots, paintings, and sculptures dating back up to 3,000 years are among the valuable artefacts.
Several mosaics are valued in the tens of millions of euros.
The earliest artefact is from the Villanovan period (1000 – 750 BC), while others are from the Etruscan (800 – 200 BC), Magna Graecia (750 – 400 BC), and Imperial Rome (27BC – 476 AD).
The majority of the artefacts were stolen in the 1990s and subsequently sold through a succession of dealers, with one selection reportedly given to the Menil Collection, a museum in Houston, Texas.
The Italian Ministry of Culture stated that the artefacts were on show at the Menil Collection, but a museum representative refuted this and stated that they had never been a part of the collection.
The museum was offered the artefacts as a gift, according to the spokeswoman, but instead sent the donor to Italy’s cultural ministry.
The owner of the collection “spontaneously” surrendered the objects, according to the ministry, after police discovered they had come from unlawful excavations of ancient sites.
Separately, the ministry stated that 145 of the recovered artefacts were the result of a bankruptcy proceeding against an English antiquities merchant, Robin Symes, who accumulated thousands of items as part of an unlawful trading network.
Italy has long attempted to recover stolen antiquities and artefacts sold to private collectors and institutions.
In September 2022, New York returned to Italy $19 million (£16 million) in stolen art, including a marble head of the goddess Athena dating from 200 BC, which is believed to be worth $3 million.