Trove of 750 looted artifacts returned to Italy from disgraced British dealer


Italian authorities have recovered 750 looted archaeological treasures worth over €12 million ($12.9 million) from British antiquities trader Robin Symes. The artifacts, which include a bronze tripod table, parade headgear for horses, male busts in marble, and precious gems set in gold, silver, bronze, bone, and amber, were seized from Symes Ltd, the company owned by Symes, who has been a major trafficker of cultural goods. The objects were illegally obtained from clandestine excavations on Italian territory. The recovered items will be displayed in Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo museum as part of a collection of stolen art that has been returned to Italy. A further 71 objects, currently in the United States, will also be recovered. The return of these objects marks another success in Italy’s attempt to recover its stolen treasures.
Today marks a historic moment in the fight against illegal trafficking of antiquities, as a trove of 750 artifacts looted from Italy and trafficked by British antiquities dealer, Robin Symes, are returned to Italy.

The artifacts’ repatriation marks the first successful repatriation of stolen items since Symes was jailed for five years in July 2020 for defrauding his customers in a scandalous business career which came to light in 2007.

According to Italian authorities, the artifacts in question include ancient Hellenistic and Roman ceramics and bronzes, Egyptian statues as well as illuminated Islamic manuscripts and had likely all been looted from archaeological sites or illegally excavated prior to Symes’ acquisition. Many of the items had likely been stolen in the 1970s and 1980s during a period of chaotic development and unauthorized excavations of archaeological sites in Italy.

The artifacts were discovered in an operation conducted in May 2021 by the Italian Guardia di Financa in collaboration with the Carabinieri Arti Culturali, whereby the artifacts were found in several locations across England. In conjunction with the operation to seize the artifacts, British authorities conducted an investigation into Symes and, in effect, brought his fraudulence to the attention of the British legal system who sentenced him to jail.

The confiscated artifacts are now in the hands of the national Italian Artistic Heritage Service. Once their provenience has been established and deemed to be illegally obtained, they will be returned to their region of origin and become part of the regional museum and archaeological patrimony.

The repatriation of the artifacts is a commendable victory in the fight against antiquities trafficking and serves as a reminder to art and antiquities dealers around the world that this practice is a serious criminal offense. It is hoped that this example will set a precedent in other antiquities trafficking cases, and will go some way in protecting the world’s cultural heritage.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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