Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Swiss return stolen artefacts to Italy

After a thirteen-year investigation, the Basel city prosecutor’s office has returned the last 68 from a cache of more than 4,500 stolen Italian artefacts seized from Basel-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina and others to the art crime division of the carabinieri in Italy  (Hannah McGivern, 'Swiss return stolen artefacts to Italy' The Art Newspaper, 19 March 2014 ). Several thousand had already been returned to Italy in 2008.
In 2001, the Italian authorities requested help from Swiss authorities in their investigation of a Basel-based art and antiquities dealer, Gianfranco Becchina, and others, for trafficking cultural heritage, receiving stolen goods and failing to declare archaeological finds. Around 5,800 objects, most of which had been illegally excavated, were seized from Becchina’s three warehouses.
The Art Newspaper notes: "hundreds of objects of uncertain origin remain in Swiss possession", orphaned by the lack of transparent records in the antiquities trade.

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