After reading an article from the British daily The Guardianan American citizen returned to Italy a set of remains of the VIe at IIIe century before our era that he had inherited in October from his father.
What to do with a set of antique items whose provenance is uncertain ? Fireplace ornaments? Clipboards? Jay Stanley, opted for a virtuous solution. Made aware of the looting of Italian cultural heritage by an article in the Guardian, this American engineer from Ben Lomond, California, has come into contact with Christos Tsirogiannis in recent months. in charge of fight against antiquities trafficking with Unesco, the archaeologist encouraged Jay Stanley to hand over to the Italian Emby in Washington, thirty antiquities that were in his possession.
This private restitution could not have taken place without a previous operation. Jay Stanley has indeed confided to having been marked by the gesture of a resident of Washington, who returned to Italy 19 antiquities inherited from his grandmother. It is by reading a summary of the case published in November 2022 in the Guardian that the American citizen thought of turning to the Unesco specialist in his turn. The researcher was naturally quick to examine the pieces in question. According to the photographs transmitted to the British daily, the antiquities consisted of a handful of figurines and painted jugs. Nothing exceptional, certainly, but so many objects nevertheless to restore.
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“These are Greek coins dated from the VIe at IIIe century BC, but from various regions of Italy”commented on Monday Christos Tsirogiannis for the Guardian . According to Jay Stanley, this collection inherited from his father, who died last October, could have been amed in Naples, where he had lived for ten years. The city near Vesuvius and archaeological sites from Pompeii And of Herculaneum represents a hub for the traffic of Italian antiquities.
A Neapolitan collection
Christos Tsirogiannis knows his stuff. In nearly fifteen years, the specialist has discovered and returned more than 1,660 looted antiquities, offered for sale on the art market, in galleries, presented by museums or kept in private collections. If the objects amed by the father of Jay Stanley were not stolen from national collections – they could nevertheless come from clandestine excavations and have been sold on open markets.
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In all cases“antiques of Italian origin whose provenance has not been unestablished must be returned to Italy”, says Christos Tsirogiannis. This is the spirit of the convention of 1970 from Unescowhich commits the signatory states – including Italy and the United States – to “put an end to the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property and to cooperate with each other”.
Several events have been organized in recent years to raise public awareness of the ravages of looting and illicit trafficking of cultural property – the world’s third largest traffic in terms of turnover after that of and weapons. In France, exhibitions were organized last year at the National Archeology MuseumAt Marseille History Museum and the Departmental Museum of Ancient Arles.