Recovered Treasures

Crater vase from Paestum, IV c. B.C., showing the abduction of Europe by Zeus turned into a bull © Paestum National Archeological Museum/F.Valletta & G. Grippo

International cooperation in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property: successes of the Italian Carabinieri

UNESCO Headquarters, Miró Hall, 19 June – 6 July 2012

31 stolen and recovered original works of art from the IVth century B.C. to the XVIIth century will be exhibited including several archaeological vases, two portions of a fresco, a painting by Guercino, another by Ludovico Carracci, a precious XIIth century ivory cross, several pages of illuminated manuscripts, one of the first letters by Christopher Columbus printed in Latin, two XVth century panel paintings by Bernardino Fungai.

The objects had been stolen or illicitly exported from their country of origin and were recovered by the Italian Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, in synergic collaboration with Police Forces and Judicial Authorities of others countries such as Switzerland, France, the United States of America, Greece and Ecuador.

With the assistance of a representative of the Italian Carabinieri and through the exhibited 31 cultural objects, visitors will be able to be better aware of the difficulties and “techniques” used to find stolen or illicitly exported works of art and to have a concrete view on the results and efficacy of a wide-angle work carried out by a national specialized police department together with other foreign Police or Judicial Authorities, in the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. 

This unique cultural event is a very special and interesting opportunity for visitors and especially young people to enjoy a diversified, unique exhibition of recovered ancient artworks. It is also a chance to get a better understanding of the contemporary problem of the illicit trafficking of cultural objects throughout the world as well as of the mechanisms to facilitate their restitution to the countries of origin.

The didactical exhibition will coincide with the venue of the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Properties (20-21 June) and the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (22 June).  Moreover, the official opening of the exhibition (by invitation only) will take place on the date of the First Meeting of the special Committee to review  the Practical Operation of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (19 June). The exhibition will be open to the public from 20 June to 6 July 2012, 9 am-6 pm (free entrance on presentation of an identity card).

Contacts: UNESCO Culture Sector, Cultural Heritage Protection Treaties Section

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