Marble head

Among the antiquities returned was a 200BC marble head of Athena from a temple in central Italy (aquired by the Met in 1996)

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Including further items seized from separate owners, the Manhattan office handed over 58 antiquities valued at nearly $19m to Italy and 16 antiquities valued at more than $4m to Egypt. The objects were sold by a number of antiquities dealers and auction houses.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr said there would be “many more seizures and repatriations” and added: “For far too long, [these objects] have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership.

Drinking cup

Among the antiquities returned was a kylix, or drinking cup c.470BC (purchased by the Met in 1979)

“Exposing these schemes takes years of diligent and difficult investigative work, and I applaud our team of prosecutors and analysts, who in coordination with our law enforcement partners, are cont inuing to make unparalleled progress in returning stolen antiquities.”

Last year hedge fund pioneer and collector Michael H Steinhardt surrendered 180 items from his collection after a four-year investigation and was barred for life from acquiring antiquities again (as reported in ATG issue 2522).

Of the repatriations announced last week, nine of the Egyptian pieces were from the Steinhardt collection as were many of the Italian pieces. The antiquities were returned during two repatriation ceremonies attended by Egypt’s consul general Howaida Essam Mohamed and Italy’s consul general Fabrizio Di Michele.