19 stolen artifacts returned to Italian government

19 Stolen Artifacts Returned to Italian Government
19 Stolen Artifacts Returned to Italian Government

Nineteen artistic treasures, some dating back more than 2,000 years, are now on their way back to Italy after being seized by U.S. officials.

Among the artifacts were several pieces located in Southern California - three frescos and a dog statue were all found in the city of Del Mar.

And it's safe to say those pieces, one of which dates back to 460 B.C., have some history.

"Belonged to a Roman senator near Pompeii nearly 500 years before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Excavated in the early 1900s and stolen from a guarded warehouse in Naples in 1997," a KGTV reporter said.

The pieces in Southern California, along with others from around the country, were reportedly stolen from Italy at one time or another, smuggled into the U.S, and sold.

In the case of the pieces in Del Mar, they were found in the home of Madeleine Pickens, the ex-wife of oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, though they were linked to her previous husband, billionaire businessman Allen Paulson.

And it's not clear any of them knew exactly what the pieces were. "Officials tell me Pickens didn't know what she even had - and they were packed away in the garage under a blanket," a KGTV reporter said.

Madeleine Pickens willingly surrendered the artifacts, and they're now making the voyage back to Italy, along with several other pieces seized elsewhere in the U.S.

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