ATHENS, Greece — (AP) — The United States on Friday returned to Greece 30 ancient artifacts, including marble statues, armored helmets and breastplates, that had been illegally removed from the country, authorities said.
The coins handed over to Greek authorities in New York date back 4,700 years to the Middle Ages. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the “exquisite” works were collectively valued at $3.7 million (€3.39 million).
Nineteen of the artifacts were voluntarily given away by New York gallerist Michael Ward, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“This is an exquisite collection of 30 antiquities that represent the extraordinary depth and beauty of Greek cultural heritage,” Bragg said.
Three others were seized from British art dealer Robin Symes, the statement said, while one was seized from a warehouse owned by an unspecified private collector based in New York.
The works include a headless marble statue of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, from Roman times. Bragg’s office said it was recovered from a storage unit owned by Symes, where it had been hidden since at least 1999.
There were also seven bronze helmets dating from the 6th century BC to the 3rd century BC, two bronze and two iron breastplates for soldiers, a medieval silver platter, a Cycladic marble figurine dating from 2700–2 300 BC and Cretan Mycenaean and Minoan pottery.
Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni praised in a statement “the strong cooperation and hard work” of American and Greek experts that led to the return of the antiquities.
This return follows two similar operations earlier this year, involving 29 antiquities, and last year, when 55 works were returned from New York.
Greece has for decades been the target of criminal networks involved in trafficking antiquities from illegal excavations and fetching high prices around the world. According to the law, all ancient objects found in the country are the property of the state.