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Washington – Two stolen artworks returned to Italy

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency returned to Italy an illuminated manuscript of the 14th Century and a 19th Century painting by Carelli in a ceremony recently held at the Italian Embassy in Washington.  

“This ceremony marks another important phase in the long-standing cooperation between the governments of Italy and of the United States in promoting culture and protecting cultural heritage. It also highlights Italy’s constant and continuous effort to repatriate its artistic treasures illegally scattered around the world,” said Italian Ambassador to the United States, Armando Varricchio. “The return of the 14th Century “Illuminated Manuscript” and of the “Carelli painting” falls under the bilateral Protocol of Understanding between Italy and the United States, which was recently renewed for the third time, and was made possible thanks to the cooperation of American authorities and of the Museums of Cleveland and Sacramento,” added Ambassador Varricchio.

The illuminated manuscript, known as Code D, was created between 1335 and 1345. At a later and unknown point in time, a page starting with the letter “L”, portraying Saint Lucia, was removed from the manuscript. The manuscript was unknowingly purchased by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1952, as it had been wrongly labelled. The missing page was found by art historians many years later in an online catalogue. The Carelli painting was stolen from a private home in Naples in 2001 and was found in an auction house in Pennsylvania and sold to an art dealer in California. The Italian Carabinieri contacted the Homeland Security Investigations service which, together with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, collaborated to return the work of art to its legitimate owner.    

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