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600 looted artefacts worth 65 mln dollars returned to Italy from U.S.

ROME, May 28 (Xinhua) -- About 600 looted artefacts and antiquities worth an estimated 60 million euros (65 million U.S. dollars) were returned to Italy from the United States, Italian police said on Tuesday.

All the artefacts had been stolen and brought to the United States at various stages in the past, and sold to galleries, museums and private collections across the country.

The return was the result of a long investigation by the Heritage Protection Unit of Carabinieri, Italy's military force, in coordination with several Italian prosecution offices, and with the assistance of New York District Attorney's Office and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, according to Italian authorities.

Carabinieri said the looted artworks included bronzes, numismatic and archival assets, all of which were obtained from illegal excavations in central and southern Italy, and from thefts carried out in museums, churches and private homes.

Among the most precious were a Hellenistic bronze dating from the first century BC, and an ancient Greek silver coin -- or tetradrachm -- dating from the fourth century BC, which was about to be offered for some 500,000 U.S. dollars in New York.

There were also other ancient coins, helmets, mosaics and jewelery dating from the 9th century BC to the 3rd century AD and frescos from the 17th century.

This was the latest haul as part of Italy's efforts to retrieve thousands of antiquities looted by tomb robbers and illegally sold to arts dealers across the world.

In 2023 alone, some 105,474 looted artworks valued at an estimated 264 million euros were found and brought back to Italy, according to the latest report by Carabinieri Heritage Protection Unit.