About 1,600 rare Italian artifacts worth nearly USD 10 million, including letters written by former kings and popes, discovered at an Illinois home of an art collector would be returned to Italy, FBI officials said today.
The items are among over 3,500 suspected antiquities that were discovered in April 2007 inside the Berwyn, Illinois residence of John Sisto, an Italian immigrant and avid art collector.
All of the items are believed to have been removed from Italy in violation of their Cultural Property laws, FBI officials said at a press conference at their headquarters here.
The value of these items has been estimated at between USD five million to USD 10 million, FBI spokesman Ross Rice said.
The repatriated items include parchments and manuscripts, many with papal wax seals and some dating to the 1100s; several hundred Etruscan artifacts dating to 500-900 BC. Over 1,000 books, some handwritten, dating to the 1700s and numerous religious and political artifacts, including letters written by former kings, popes and other members of the Roman Catholic Church.
The stolen relics also include a hand written manuscript by Benito Mussolini, Italy’s fascist dictator.