NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An ancient Roman statue that made its way to new York under mysterious circumstances will soon be back with its rightful owners – the people of Italy.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported on Friday evening, Homeland Security Investigation special agents often seize stolen property. But this particular find – a statue of a sleeping woman – weighs almost 2,000 pounds and is about 2,000 years old.
The statue, nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty,” was carved in ancient Rome and originally used as the lid for a sarcophagus.
“This was stolen and it belongs with the Italian people and that’s where it’s going to go,” HSI Special Agent James DeBoer told Aiello.
DeBoer said there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the statue.
It was displayed at a New York art show last year with a price tag of $4 million.
Investigators grew suspicious and connected the statue to Sicilian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who was convicted last year for selling ancient treasures that were plundered from ruins in Italy, Aiello reported.
Authorities believe the sarcophagus lid was brought to America in the 1980s in pieces and expertly restored.
“Our investigators determined through a lot of paperwork and a lot of good investigative means that the sarcophagus was actually in Long Island City at 9a warehouse,” DeBoer said.
The feds went to court to get permission from a judge to seize the statue in a lawsuit titled, “United States of America against One Ancient Roman Marble Sarcophagus Lid With Sculputure of Reclining Woman.”
“It’s their cultural heritage, it’s their history,” DeBoer said.
The statue has been safely stored for the trip back to Italy, Aiello reported.
HSI authorities are still looking into how the statue got to New York, and have not ruled out possible criminal charges.
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