Germany returns artefacts—including a Venetian jewellery box stolen in 2006—to Italy

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At a ceremony in Rome, Germany on Monday returned 14 smuggled artefacts recovered by police that were stolen from Italian museums or illegally excavated.

The objects included a Corinthian bronze helmet from the third or fourth century BC that is presumed to have been excavated illegally in Sicily. Also among the returned items were four Roman-Byzantine gold coins stolen from the National Archaeological Museum in Parma in 2009 and recovered from dealers and private owners in Germany, and a 16th-century Venetian jewellery box that was stolen from Milan’s Castello Sforzesco in 2006. The wooden box, inlaid with carved bone and produced by the renowned Embriachi workshop, was smuggled via Britain and Belgium to Germany, where it was offered for sale.

Acting on information provided by the Carabinieri in 2019, Bavarian police seized an Attic band cup dating from about 550 BC and decorated with images from Greek mythology from a Munich auction house where it was to be illegally offered for sale, the Bavarian state crime office said in a press release.

“The fight against the illegal trade in cultural heritage can only succeed if we work together,” German Culture Minister Claudia Roth said in a press statement.

Guido Limmer, the vice-president of the Bavarian police, said the returns “underlined the excellent cooperation between the Italian and Bavarian authorities.”

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