Sunday, March 01, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, Harry Winston Trial Ends, Post Mortem Begins, Picasso Sent As Gift, Pearls A Winner, Benin, Books & Smuggler Exposed


 Breaking News:

15 Artworks Stolen From Chinese Museum South of Paris

French cultural officials say 15 pieces of art have been stolen from a Chinese museum south of Paris, including a replica crown of the King of Siam given to France's emperor in the mid-19th century.
The Culture Ministry says the break-in before dawn Sunday at the Chinese Museum at Fontainebleau Castle was over in less than seven minutes.
Police are investigating.
Castle spokesman Alexis de Kermel said he had no estimation of the objects' value. He called them "priceless" and the master works of the museum.
The ministry said the stolen objects were assembled by Empress Eugenie, the wife of French Emperor Napoleon III, for her Chinese museum in 1863. The crown was donated by the ambassadors of Siam, now Thailand, during their official visit to France two years earlier.

8 jailed in double Paris jewellery heist
 
PARIS - A French court has sentenced eight men to jail over a double heist at a Harry Winston jewellery shop in Paris in which they made off with gems and watches worth more than 100 million euros (US$114 million).
The Paris court Friday sentenced them to prison terms ranging from nine months to 15 years over the robberies in 2007 and 2008.
Douadi Yahiaoui, nicknamed "Doudou" and considered the brains behind the double heist, was handed a 15-year jail term. Yahiaoui, 50, has already served 23 years for theft and drug trafficking.
"He was the brains of the team. He is the one who organised everything, recruited the robbers, gave instructions and was in charge of selling the jewellery," said prosecutor Sylvie Kachaner.
The court also sentenced former Harry Winston security guard Mouloud Djennad, 39, to five years in jail, with three suspended, for providing information to Yahiaoui.
"My thoughts are with my former colleagues at Harry Winston. I'm ashamed every day but I cannot undo what I've done," he had told the court before the jury retired to deliberate their verdict.
In the first robbery in October 2007, four masked gunmen wearing decorators' overalls held up employees at the store in an upmarket part of the French capital.
The robbers had spent the night in the jewellery shop with the help of Djennad, who let them in the previous evening.
After having threatened, struck and tied up employees, the thieves forced the manager to de-activate alarms and open the safes. The robbers made off with 120 watches and 360 pieces of jewellery worth more than 32 million euros.
Then just over a year later, in December 2008, four men -- including three wearing women's clothes and wigs -- entered the same store, again with Djennad's help.
In less than 20 minutes, they took 104 watches and 297 pieces of jewellery worth 71 million euros and fled in a car.
Police found some of the booty at Yahiaoui's home, but after a five-year investigation, nearly 500 of the jewels and watches have still not been found.
"It's an exceptional case with unusual aspects," Eric Dupond-Moretti, the lawyer of one of the suspects, had said.
"In television series about heists, they wear bulletproof vests. Here it's fishnet stockings and high heels."
Among the other defendants, Farid Allou, 49, who had served 20 years for armed robbery, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Karim Debaa, 32, who admitted taking part in the second robbery, got six years, as did Hassen Belferroum, 32, and Faudile Yahiaoui, 28, Yahiaoui's nephew.
The court imposed a sentence of three years, with 18 months suspended, on Patrick Chiniah, 40, brother-in-law of Yahiaoui, and nine months for Areski Yahiaoui, 59, Yahiaoui's brother, who was convicted of receiving stolen goods.

8 jailed in double Paris jewellery heist

PARIS - A French court has sentenced eight men to jail over a double heist at a Harry Winston jewellery shop in Paris in which they made off with gems and watches worth more than 100 million euros (US$114 million).
The Paris court Friday sentenced them to prison terms ranging from nine months to 15 years over the robberies in 2007 and 2008.
Douadi Yahiaoui, nicknamed "Doudou" and considered the brains behind the double heist, was handed a 15-year jail term. Yahiaoui, 50, has already served 23 years for theft and drug trafficking.
"He was the brains of the team. He is the one who organised everything, recruited the robbers, gave instructions and was in charge of selling the jewellery," said prosecutor Sylvie Kachaner.
The court also sentenced former Harry Winston security guard Mouloud Djennad, 39, to five years in jail, with three suspended, for providing information to Yahiaoui.
"My thoughts are with my former colleagues at Harry Winston. I'm ashamed every day but I cannot undo what I've done," he had told the court before the jury retired to deliberate their verdict.
In the first robbery in October 2007, four masked gunmen wearing decorators' overalls held up employees at the store in an upmarket part of the French capital.
The robbers had spent the night in the jewellery shop with the help of Djennad, who let them in the previous evening.
After having threatened, struck and tied up employees, the thieves forced the manager to de-activate alarms and open the safes. The robbers made off with 120 watches and 360 pieces of jewellery worth more than 32 million euros.
Then just over a year later, in December 2008, four men -- including three wearing women's clothes and wigs -- entered the same store, again with Djennad's help.
In less than 20 minutes, they took 104 watches and 297 pieces of jewellery worth 71 million euros and fled in a car.
Police found some of the booty at Yahiaoui's home, but after a five-year investigation, nearly 500 of the jewels and watches have still not been found.
"It's an exceptional case with unusual aspects," Eric Dupond-Moretti, the lawyer of one of the suspects, had said.
"In television series about heists, they wear bulletproof vests. Here it's fishnet stockings and high heels."
Among the other defendants, Farid Allou, 49, who had served 20 years for armed robbery, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Karim Debaa, 32, who admitted taking part in the second robbery, got six years, as did Hassen Belferroum, 32, and Faudile Yahiaoui, 28, Yahiaoui's nephew.
The court imposed a sentence of three years, with 18 months suspended, on Patrick Chiniah, 40, brother-in-law of Yahiaoui, and nine months for Areski Yahiaoui, 59, Yahiaoui's brother, who was convicted of receiving stolen goods.
- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/crime/8-jailed-double-paris-jewellery-heist#sthash.Oeq3os60.dpuf

8 jailed in double Paris jewellery heist

PARIS - A French court has sentenced eight men to jail over a double heist at a Harry Winston jewellery shop in Paris in which they made off with gems and watches worth more than 100 million euros (US$114 million).
The Paris court Friday sentenced them to prison terms ranging from nine months to 15 years over the robberies in 2007 and 2008.
Douadi Yahiaoui, nicknamed "Doudou" and considered the brains behind the double heist, was handed a 15-year jail term. Yahiaoui, 50, has already served 23 years for theft and drug trafficking.
"He was the brains of the team. He is the one who organised everything, recruited the robbers, gave instructions and was in charge of selling the jewellery," said prosecutor Sylvie Kachaner.
The court also sentenced former Harry Winston security guard Mouloud Djennad, 39, to five years in jail, with three suspended, for providing information to Yahiaoui.
"My thoughts are with my former colleagues at Harry Winston. I'm ashamed every day but I cannot undo what I've done," he had told the court before the jury retired to deliberate their verdict.
In the first robbery in October 2007, four masked gunmen wearing decorators' overalls held up employees at the store in an upmarket part of the French capital.
The robbers had spent the night in the jewellery shop with the help of Djennad, who let them in the previous evening.
After having threatened, struck and tied up employees, the thieves forced the manager to de-activate alarms and open the safes. The robbers made off with 120 watches and 360 pieces of jewellery worth more than 32 million euros.
Then just over a year later, in December 2008, four men -- including three wearing women's clothes and wigs -- entered the same store, again with Djennad's help.
In less than 20 minutes, they took 104 watches and 297 pieces of jewellery worth 71 million euros and fled in a car.
Police found some of the booty at Yahiaoui's home, but after a five-year investigation, nearly 500 of the jewels and watches have still not been found.
"It's an exceptional case with unusual aspects," Eric Dupond-Moretti, the lawyer of one of the suspects, had said.
"In television series about heists, they wear bulletproof vests. Here it's fishnet stockings and high heels."
Among the other defendants, Farid Allou, 49, who had served 20 years for armed robbery, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Karim Debaa, 32, who admitted taking part in the second robbery, got six years, as did Hassen Belferroum, 32, and Faudile Yahiaoui, 28, Yahiaoui's nephew.
The court imposed a sentence of three years, with 18 months suspended, on Patrick Chiniah, 40, brother-in-law of Yahiaoui, and nine months for Areski Yahiaoui, 59, Yahiaoui's brother, who was convicted of receiving stolen goods.
- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/crime/8-jailed-double-paris-jewellery-heist#sthash.Oeq3os60.dpuf

Diamond Thief Gets 15 Years in Paris Heist

PARIS — A French court meted out a prison sentence of 15 years on Friday to a convicted drug trafficker considered the ringleader of a spectacular $100 million diamond heist at a Harry Winston jewelry store that thieves in flowing wigs carried out with inside knowledge from a security guard.
Throughout the trial, which lasted almost four weeks, the main defendant, Daoudi Yahiaoui, 50, minimized his role in the 2008 robbery in the so-called golden triangle of luxury boutiques in Paris. But the tribunal concluded that he was the brain behind the robbery and a holdup in 2007, which together resulted in the theft of more than 900 diamonds and other jewels.
Mr. Yahiaoui was one of eight men on trial, and the others were sentenced to prison terms of nine months to 15 years. With video of the 2008 robbery, the plot unraveled over the years as the thieves sought to sell the gems, unaware that their telephones were tapped and they were being tailed by investigators seeking to recover the jewels. About 500 gems remain missing.
Mouloud Djennad, 39, the guard who admitted being the “inside man” in the plot, was sentenced to five years, but he remained free with three years of the punishment suspended and additional time reduced for the period he spent in pretrial detention.
During the trial, he expressed remorse for his actions, apologizing to a former co-worker, who was a witness, and weeping in his hands.
The trial, which started Feb. 3, offered an unusual view of the plotting of a diamond theft, one of many that jolted the luxury districts of the French capital in a wave of organized robberies.
The robbery seemed flawlessly executed, but the thieves were tripped up by a series of mistakes, like leaving behind a handbag with a fingerprint, and by their troubled efforts to sell the diamonds amid tensions with intermediaries scouting for buyers.
In March 2011, on the fifth search of Mr. Yahiaoui’s home in a Paris suburb, investigators found stuffed in a drainpipe a hand cream bottle that contained missing earrings, assorted rings and a 31-carat diamond solitaire.
The actual estimates of the loss varied because of the difference in retail and wholesale values of the gems. In court, a lawyer for Harry Winston testified that the company had received insurance payments of $36.7 million for the 2007 holdup and $52.6 million for the second robbery.
Many of the men on trial are related to each other. Mr. Yahiaoui’s brother-in-law introduced the guard to him after he casually revealed security weaknesses in the jewelry store. Mr. Yahiaoui’s brother and nephew were also sentenced in the plot.
Lawyers for the guard defended his involvement by saying he was naïve and trusted Mr. Yahiaoui because they shared family roots in the Kabylie region in northeastern Algeria. Mr. Djennad, who has been working in a butcher shop while awaiting the trial, said he had become trapped in his friendship with Mr. Yahiaoui, who intimidated him into participating in the second robbery in 2008 despite his misgivings after the first holdup.
Grainy black-and-white video from the store shows him opening the door to the men in their outlandish outfits and then standing by the door as they fled with a rolling suitcase of gems.

Missing Picasso, disguised as a holiday gift, is recovered in New York





U.S. officials inspected a FedEx package shipped from Belgium to New York in December with its happy holiday greeting, "Joyeux Noel." They opened it and instead of a $37 “art craft toy” promised on the box found a stolen Picasso painting worth millions.



Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and likely next attorney general of the United States, filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking to seize the painting, “La Coiffeuse” (The Hairdresser), reported stolen from a Paris museum storeroom in 2001. The painting will eventually be returned to France.
“A lost treasure has been found,” Lynch said in a statement released Thursday.
“Because of the blatant smuggling in this case, this painting is now subject to forfeiture to the United States. Forfeiture of the painting will extract it from the grasp of the black market in stolen art so that it can be returned to its rightful owner,” she stated.
Picasso painted the work in 1911. It is an oil-on-canvas that measures 33 by 46 centimeters, or about 13 by 18 inches.
It was bequeathed to the National Museums of France by its former director, Georges Salles, in 1966, and assigned to the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. The work was last publicly exhibited in Munich, Germany, in 1998, then returned to Paris and placed in the storerooms of the Centre George Pompidou.
There the painting, valued at about $2.5 million, remained until a request was made to again exhibit it. The staff went to the storeroom where they discovered it was missing in November 2001. The location of the painting remained unknown until December.
On Dec. 17, the painting was shipped by someone in Belgium to a warehouse in Long Island City, part of the New York City borough of Queens. It was then sent to Newark where it was examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, then turned over to Homeland Security investigators, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The package's shipping label described the contents as an “Art Craft / Toy” valued at 30 euros, or approximately $37 U.S. dollars, a low-value handicraft shipped as a Christmas present.
No arrests have been made in the case.

No one uses real jewels since Cleopatra died: Calvin Klein on Lupita Nyong'o Oscar dress




Lupita Nyong'o is graceful in white.


American fashion house Calvin Klein, that was recently in news for Lupita Nyong'o stolen Oscar dress, has asserted that they never claimed whether or not the pearls on the dress were real.

A source connected with the Women's Creative Director of Calvin Klein asserted that they never told anyone if the pearls were real or fake, TMZ.com reported. The source added that everyone knew pearls were fake as no one made dresses out of real jewels since Cleopatra died.

According to reports, the only person who represented the pearls as real and valued the dress at 150K dollars was Lupita's stylist.

Nyong'o stolen Oscar dress was reportedly worth between 150,000 dollars and 10 million dollars.

The thief had called the website and said he took two of the pearls down to the Garment District in LA and learned they were fake and that's when he returned the dress to the hotel.

Spain nabs 9 alleged art forgers for selling fake works by Picasso, Warhol and Miro

  • Spain Fake Art.jpg
    In this photo released by the Spanish Interior Ministry on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, different pieces of alleged fake art are seen inside a studio in Valencia, Spain. Spanish Police have broken up a network that allegedly created and sold fake works of art purporting to be by artists of international standing including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Joan Miro. Officers have arrested nine suspects in the eastern region of Valencia, including the alleged counterfeiters and intermediaries involved in selling the fakes. Investigators searched seven addresses and seized 271 works, including canvasses, sculptures and documents to be used to falsify the art's provenance.
Spanish police have broken up a gang that allegedly created and then sold fake works of art purporting to be by renowned artists including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Joan Miro.
Officers have arrested nine suspects in the eastern region of Valencia, including the alleged counterfeiters and intermediaries involved in selling the fakes online and through galleries, an Interior Ministry statement says.
The investigation began following a complaint that art objects had been stolen from a house in the eastern city of Denia.
Police proceeded to search seven addresses and seized 271 works, including canvasses, sculptures and documents to be used in the falsification of the art's provenance.
Saturday's statement says the alleged counterfeiters were three brothers and a couple, who had all been faking art for seven years.
Multi-millionaire businessman who stores cars, wine, cigars and art treasures for the rich and famous is arrested in fraud case 
  • Yves Bouvier was detained in Monaco, along with two alleged accomplices
  • Comes amid accusations so-called 'Freeports' are being used to dodge tax
  • Ultra-high net worth individuals use the vast repositories to store treasures
  • Bouvier owns £50m Luxembourg Freeport at Grand Duchy's Findel airport
  • It is connected to 'possible fraud and manipulation of art market prices'
  • Monaco FC owner Dmitry Rybolovlev is one of Bouvier's alleged victims
A multi-millionaire businessman responsible for storing some of the greatest art treasures and luxury goods in the world has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.
Yves Bouvier - whose rich and famous clients include many from Britain - was placed in custody in Monaco on Wednesday night, along with two alleged accomplices.
It follows a complaint about his so-called 'Freeports' - vast repositories where ultra-high net worth individuals keep their treasures.

They include everything from priceless paintings to top marque cars, fine wines and cigars, with Mr Bouvier insisting all would be kept safe and under conditions of utter secrecy.
This had led to accusations that they are being used to avoid tax, and even to fence off stolen property before it is sold.
A source close to Monaco prosecutors today confirmed that the current investigation centres on Mr Bouvier's deposit in Luxembourg, and attempts to 'manipulate art prices'.
The £50m Luxembourg Freeport is situated in the cargo centre of the Grand Duchy's Findel airport, and occupies a bomb-proof 11,000 square metre building.
It contains state-of the-art facilities for storing cars, wine, cigars, art works, and other luxury items, including precious metals.
Mr Bouvier, who also owns the Singapore Freeport, insisted that his so-called 'bonded-area' was completely above board, even though similar complexes have been linked with smuggling and other illicit activity.

The Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, owner of Monaco football club, is thought to be one of his victims.
Tetiana Bersheda, a lawyer representing Mr Rybolovlev, said in a statement that an 'investigation has been launched by the judicial authorities of Monaco against Mr Yves Bouvier, one of the most famous people in the world of art who is the owner of the free ports of Singapore, Geneva and Luxembourg among others.
'After having worked for more than 10 years with Mr Bouvier, the Rybolovlev family received some information about possible fraud and manipulation of prices on the art market by Mr Bouvier and his accomplices.
'The scope and all the victims of the fraudulent scheme created by Mr Bouvier have not yet been identified at this time.'
Mr Rybolovlev is one of the richest men in the world, with an art collection which includes Monets, Picassos and Van Goghs.

There was no immediate comment from representatives of Mr Bouvier about his arrest.
David Arendt, managing director of the Luxembourg Freeport, said last year: 'The legislative framework under which the Luxembourg Freeport operates guarantees total traceability of all goods stored and ensures that all activities strictly comply with international standards.
He added: 'The Luxembourg Freeport has eight showrooms and a spectacular lobby designed to display the goods in storage.'
Shell are among companies who have called for the closure of 'bonded areas' in the Philippines, where oil smuggling costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue every year.
In 2003 the authorities in Switzerland, where there are numerous similar centres, announced they would return hundreds of antiques stolen from Egypt and then stored.
Richtung22, a pressure group campaigning against tax avoidance, said the Luxembourg site was typical of many being used to avoid tax, and to cover up other illegal activity.

British Man’s Return of Benin Empire’s Stolen Art Re-Exposes How Monumental Wrong Is Still Not Right

Captain Herbert Walker
In January 1897, seven British officials, including leader and acting Consul-General James Phillips, were ambushed and killed on their way to see Benin King Ovonramwen or Oba. The murders caused the U.K. to respond with 500 soldiers of their own in what is now understood as “the most-brutal massacre of the colonial era.”
After deposing the King, soldiers pillaged and plundered the Benin Kingdom, stealing thousands of artifacts and artworks, with the majority of the spoils going to the British museum. However, Mark Walker (pictured below), recently decided to return two artifacts to the kingdom that were given to him by his grandfather, Captain Herbert Walker (pictured), re-exposing the fact that the British have still refused to return these priceless works.
SEE ALSO: India’s Rich African History Extended Far Beyond Slavery & Trade
Keep Up With Face2Face Africa On Facebook!
Benin Empire
The Benin Empire, which is located today in the southern region of present-day Nigeria, controlled trade between Europe and the Nigerian coast from the late 1400s to the end of the 1900s.
Benin empire art
Made out of brass, ivory, and coral, the art that came out of the Benin kingdom served a number of purposes: they were physical manifestations of the empire’s history and additionally expressed King Oba’s divinity and interactions with the supernatural.
The art that came out of this kingdom reportedly dates back to at least 500 BCE.
In 1897, when Phillips and his men were killed, the British answered back with a 500-strong force that used Maxim machine guns and rockets against the kingdom.
Retired doctor Mark says of the bloodbath, “The British had much better weapons so it was something of an uneven battle.”
benin1
Mark’s grandfather fought among the ranks and wrote the following about the massacre in his “To Benin & back” diary (pictured) that detailed what was officially called the Benin Punitive Expedition:
The city is the most gruesome sight I’ve ever seen,” wrote Herbert. “The whole pace is littered with sculls & corpses in various stages of decay, many of them fresh human sacrifices. Outside the king’s palace were two crucifixion trees, one for men & the other for women, with the victims on & around them. As we approached the city through the bush, we found bodies of slaves newly sacrificed & placed across the path to bring the Benis luck, while they lay in holes, or behind cover, & ‘sniped’ at us as we passed.
According to Captain Walker, both men and women were sacrificed that day in an effort to appease the gods and foil the British attack.
Following the killing was the looting: More than 2,000 religious artifacts and artworks were stolen and taken to England.
Of the stolen works, Herbert described how a fellow officer was “wandering round with chisel & hammer, knocking off brass figures & collecting all sorts of rubbish as loot.”
In addition, all religious buildings and palaces were set on fire.
To date, the British Museum has 800 artworks that came directly from the Benin Punitive Expedition.
King Oba
King Oba
Meanwhile, King Oba was exiled to Calabar and by the time the monarchy was restored 17 years later, the Benin Kingdom was no more, and in its place was the newly colonized “Nigeria.”
Benin empire art benin6
But Captain Walker didn’t come away empty handed either: He took an Oro bird, which is known as the bird of prophecy (pictured), and a bell (pictured) that was used to invoke the ancestors.
And in 2013, Mark would inherit those items.
“I was surprised, having coveted them for so many years that when I finally came in possession of them I found myself asking what their future was.
“As you come in to your 60s, you realise you have got to start making preparations for moving away from this life. I was asking myself, What do I want them for? Possessions aren’t as important as I used to think when I was younger.”
After speaking with his children and realizing that they did not care to have the artifacts, Mark wondered about how to return the items to their actual home.
The BBC reports:
He came across the Richard Lander Society, an organisation that campaigns for the Benin artworks to be returned to the royal palace in Benin City. It helped him contact the right people and last year Walker travelled to Nigeria to hand the bronzes to the present Oba (pictured), the great-grandson of the King deposed by Herbert and his colleagues.
“It was very humbling to be greeted with such enthusiasm and gratitude, for nothing really. I was just returning some art objects to a place where I feel they will be properly looked after,” says Mark.
Prince Edun and Mark Walker
Prince Edun Akenzua (left) met with Mark Walker in Benin City to receive the bronzes
Obviously, Mark’s bird of song and bell aren’t just “some art objects,” though.
“Those things that were removed were chapters of our history book,” says Prince Edun Benin Empire artAkenzua, a younger brother of the current Oba.
“When they were made, the Benin people did not know how to write, so whatever happened, the Oba instructed the bronze casters to record it.
“We saw the removal as a grave injustice and we are hoping that someday people will see why we are asking for these things back,” he says.
Clearly, Mark’s contribution isn’t even the tip of the iceberg in regards to what was lost by the Benin Empire.
Consequently, Prince Edun has been reportedly lobbying British Parliament to return all of the looted artworks and artifacts to Benin City.
Prince Edun adds, “The English returned the Stone of Scone to Scotland some years ago. So why can’t they return our things? They mean so much to us but they mean nothing to the British.”
Not surprisingly, there is resistance to returning the works, with some oddly arguing that sending them back to Nigeria would actually be putting them in danger.
To that, Prince Edun quips, “It’s a bit like if someone were to steal my car in Benin City, and I found it in Lagos and could prove that it was mine. And the thief told me, ‘OK, you can have your car back if you can convince me that you’ve built an electronically controlled garage to keep the car. Until you do that, I will not return it to you.’”
Meanwhile, at press time, the British Museum claims that they haven’t received any “recent” requests for the nearly 1,000 artworks and artifacts they possess from the Empire.
In a statement, the museum added:
“As a museum of the world for the world the British Museum presents the Benin Bronzes in a global context alongside the stories of other cultures and makes these objects as available as possible to a global audience.”
 SEE ALSO: REPORT: HUNDREDS MORE OF AFRICAN AMERICANS LYNCHED THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

400-Year-Old Books Stolen in Italy Are Found in California

17th Century Books Found
Two stolen Italian books dating to the 17th century that were discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area and many other plundered ancient artifacts will be returned to their country of origin, federal officials say.
The books, "Stirpium Historiae" and "Rariorm Plantarum Historia Anno 1601," were taken from Italy's Historical National Library of Agriculture and sold to an antiquities dealer in Italy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement. The Bay Area buyer willingly surrendered the books to investigators.
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit will return other cultural treasures to the Italian government this week, including a 17th century cannon, 5th century Greek pottery and items dating to 300-460 B.C.
The items were stolen in Italy and smuggled into the U.S. over the last several years. Their value was not released.
"The cultural and symbolic worth of these Italian treasures far surpasses any monetary value to the Italians," Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Francisco said in the statement.
Agents also recovered four stolen artifacts reported missing in July 2012. Three Roman frescos dating to 63-79 A.D. and a piece of dog-figure pottery from the 4th century B.C. that were illegally pilfered from Pompeii were recovered from a private art collection in San Diego and will be returned to Italy.
Eleven investigations nationwide led to the recovery of the antiquities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Rome's force for combatting art and antiquities crimes helped Homeland Security Investigations officials in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, San Diego and San Francisco.
"This repatriation underscores the strong level of judicial cooperation between the U.S. and Italy, and the great attention that both countries assign to the protection of cultural heritage," said Claudio Bisogniero, Italy's ambassador to the U.S.
The U.S. government has returned more than 7,200 artifacts to 30 countries since 2007, including paintings from France, Germany, Poland and Austria; 15th to 18th century manuscripts from Italy and Peru; and items from China, Cambodia and Iraq, the statement says.