Rescued treasures and unmasked impostors

May 20, 2023

Among the Italian archaeological finds recovered by the Carabinieri in America, many could be fakes. A museum is ready for the others

Anna Pelagotti
Anna Pelagotti

«Investigation into art never ends», said General Molinese, stressing the importance of increasingly sophisticated technological tools, which have made it possible to identify, in auction houses and private collections, the artifacts recovered from Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (Tpc), in collaboration with the New York County District Attorney’s Office. The finds were brought back to Italy after they had been stolen from Italian territory and illegally marketed in the United States.

Dated between the 7th century BC. and the 1st century AD, with an estimated value of over 20 million dollars, the works will soon be exhibited, at least the original ones, at the new Museo dell’Arte Salvata in Rome, a new museum set up in the octagonal hall of the Roman National Museum. Promoted by former minister Dario Franceschini, the museum is intended to temporarily house “saved” works, until they are returned to their respective places of origin.

In fact, by saved art we mean art that has returned to Italy thanks to the intervention of the Tpc, or with the support of cultural diplomacy, or even artworks recovered from the rubble of earthquakes, accidental discoveries of antiquity, but also masterpieces restored by the Central institute for restoration (but not those of the Opificio?).

Massimo Osanna, archaeologist general director of Museums, on the occasion of the inauguration just last year, added that: «It will be a dynamic museum, thanks to which research and enhancement activities will be carried out, with punctual diagnostic investigations that will be carried out on the ».

The director of the Roman National Museum Stéphane Verger had specified that:

“In the absence of precise data, we cannot exclude that some finds are the result of a forgery, in some cases repainted, in other cases, perhaps, completely false“.

And in fact According to Gianfranco Adornato professor at the Normale di Pisa, among the sixty pieces returned to the Italian state this January, a good part would be made up of fakes recognizable to the naked eye.

After all, the antiquities market is marred by fakes. Sometimes the eye of an expert is enough to unmask them. Diagnostic tests are much more often needed.