Agents seize ancient Roman sarcophagus lid in Queens

Agents seize ancient Roman sarcophagus lid in Queens

Posted: Updated:
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agent stand over an ancient Roman sarcophagus found in Long Island City. (DHS ICE photo) An Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agent stand over an ancient Roman sarcophagus found in Long Island City. (DHS ICE photo)
MYFOXNY.COM/AP -

Federal agents seized an ancient Roman sarcophagus lid from a storage facility in New York City on behalf of Italian officials who say it was looted from Italy decades ago, the AP reported. A marble statue of a reclining half-clad female is carved in the lid of the funeral box.

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations directorate tracked down the sarcophagus in Long Island City, Queens, on February 20, 2014. They said it had appeared in a public exhibition last week.

"The forfeiture of this sarcophagus lid brings us one step closer to returning this stolen treasure to its rightful owner, the Italian people," Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes Jr. said in a statement. "HSI is committed to intercepting and recovering stolen cultural artifacts and repatriating them to their rightful owners."

Federal officials said in a court filing that the statue is believed to be one of the many items Italian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who ran a gallery in Switzerland, illegally obtained. He was convicted in 2011 of trafficking in plundered Roman artifacts. Among his records was a document that showed he bought the marble sarcophagus lid in Italy and shipped it to his gallery in 1981. But agents do not know how or when it came into the United States.

"Whether looted cultural property enters our ports today or decades ago, it is our responsibility to see that it is returned to its rightful owners, in this case, the Italian people," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "We will continue to use all legal tools available to us to seize, forfeit and repatriate stolen cultural property."

The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the Italian Carabinieri Protection of Cultural Heritage Command helped with the investigation, according to ICE.

With the Associated Press

  • Queens NewsQueens NewsMore>>

  • Dangerous rip currents at NJ, NY beaches

    Dangerous rip currents at NJ, NY beaches

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:54 PM EDT2014-08-27 20:54:07 GMT
    Several beaches on the New Jersey and New York coastlines are open to visitors but closed to swimming because of high surf and dangerous rip currents. The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory and Rip Current Statement for the area beaches because of the effects of Hurricane Cristobal, which is expected to track south and east of the Jersey shore through Thursday.
    Several beaches on the New Jersey and New York coastlines are open to visitors but closed to swimming because of high surf and dangerous rip currents. The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory and Rip Current Statement for the area beaches because of the effects of Hurricane Cristobal, which is expected to track south and east of the Jersey shore through Thursday.
  • U.S. marshals in Queens shootout

    U.S. marshals in Queens shootout

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:16 PM EDT2014-08-27 20:16:23 GMT
    An armed fugitive wanted for nearly two decades on drug charges in the South was wounded during a shootout with deputy U.S. marshals who tracked him down in New York City, federal authorities said Wednesday.
    An armed fugitive wanted for nearly two decades on drug charges in the South was wounded during a shootout with deputy U.S. marshals who tracked him down in New York City, federal authorities said Wednesday.
  • Attractive players in tennis, help or hurt?

    Attractive players in tennis, help or hurt?

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:19:52 GMT
    The U.S. Open is underway in Queens and there's no denying that many of the players, both men and women, are in great physical shape and know how to play that up. Women are particularly promoted in the industry as attractive, fashionable and fiercely competitive. Does that help the game and draw more people in?
    The U.S. Open is underway in Queens and there's no denying that many of the players, both men and women, are in great physical shape and know how to play that up. Women are particularly promoted in the industry as attractive, fashionable and fiercely competitive. Does that help the game and draw more people in?
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices