An ancient Greek vase that until recently was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as part of its Greek and Roman collections is undergoing investigation.
The museum was ordered by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to hand over the artefact which is believed to have been looted decades ago from Italy.
The vase has been attributed to the Greek artist Python and is from 360 BCE. It depicts the ancient Greek god Dionysus riding a cart and was created in southern Italy, which at the time was predominantly inhabited by Greeks.
It was forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis whose interest in looted antiquities led him to reach out about the vase to Manhattan prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos who has formerly been involved in other looting cases, namely that of Iraq’s National Museum.
“When I sent American police the information, they immediately told me that this was ‘a great case.’ It was abundantly clear that this rare object had been stolen,” Mr Tsirogiannis said.
Given the similarity with another major work in the Met’s collection that was removed in 2008 and discovered to be excavated from an ancient Italian burial ground, the Euphronios Krater, police officials believe the case may be linked to Italian dealer Giacomo Medici. He was arrested in 1997, and in 2004 was convicted of conspiring to traffic in antiquities. However Medici has denied any involvement with the Python vase.