A Roman statue looted about 10 years ago from an archeological site has been recovered by Italian police after off-duty officers noticed it in a Belgian antique shop, authorities have said.
According to Italy’s Heritage Tutelage Carabinieri Unit, the headless marble statue of a “Togatus,” from the 1st century BC, was stolen by unknown robbers from Roman archeological site Villa Marini Dettina Park.
It was disclosed that two off-duty police officers spotted the statue in an antique shop in Brussels’ Sablon neighborhood while carrying out a separate investigation in Belgium, and, on their return to Italy opened an investigation into the artifact after becoming suspicious about its origins. The statue, police say, appeared damaged, most likely from tools used in digging.
Reports stated that the officers cross-referenced photographs they had taken in Belgium with a database detailing stolen artifacts and discovered its true origin.
Authorities said the statue, worth around 100,000 euros ($119,668), was confiscated and returned to Italy in February.
Also, authorities said an investigation done with the cooperation of Belgian authorities revealed the illegal trafficking of cultural objects led by an Italian businessman who used a Spanish pseudonym and has been referred to Rome’s Prosecutor office for receiving the stolen statue and exporting it.
It is important to note that Italian authorities have long supported efforts to repatriate antiquities they say were illegally obtained and trafficked.