Cow head and two torsos returned to Lebanon

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  The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office recently sent three sculptures looted from the Temple of Eshmun back to Lebanon The objects had been seized with a court warrant, and the owners surrendered them after learning of their background, according to the DA’s office. The items include:

— Torso E1912: In November, a marble torso, circa the 4th century B.C.E., was recovered from a private owner who acquired it after the statue was excavated in the 1970s from the Temple of Eshmun, an ancient place of worship near Sidon in southwestern Lebanon. The item was subsequently stolen during the Lebanese Civil War and sold by an antiquities dealer before being shipped to New York.

— The Calf Bearer: In October, another marble torso, circa the 6th century B.C.E. and valued at approximately $4.5 million, was recovered from a private owner who acquired the artifact after it too was excavated from the Temple of Eshmun in the 1970s, stolen during the Lebanese Civil War, and sold to private collectors.

— The Bull’s Head: In July, a marble bull’s head, circa 360 B.C.E. and valued at approximately $1.2 million, was recovered from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was on loan for display by a private collector who acquired the statue after it was also was excavated from the Temple of Eshmun in the 1960s, transferred to the Byblos Citadel in Jubayl, stolen during the Lebanese Civil War, and sold to private collectors..


Headless torso seized

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   Officials have seized a headless headless female torso and plan to return it to Italy, where it had been stolen some three decades earlier from Benito Mussolini’s former home.
At this point, it should probably be noted the torso is marble, part of a hacked statue that was sold to a New Yorker in 2001 for $75,000. The New Yorker (a person, not the magazine) realized it was stolen shortly after contemplating offering the torso at auction and turned it over to the FBI in 2015.

The statue fragment is known as the “Torlonia Peplophoros” — Peplophoros meaning ancient Greek garment, and Torlonia meaning the 18th Century villa where it had been on display. The FBI described the villa this way:

In 1797, Giovanni Torlonia, a famous Vatican banker in Rome, purchased what is now called the Villa Torlonia (the “Villa”) after inheriting the title of Marchese. The Torlonia family owned the Villa until 1977, though it was used by Benito Mussolini as his personal residence from 1925 to 1943, and then occupied by the Allied High Command from 1944 to 1947. After 1947, the Villa was abandoned and deteriorated until the Municipality of Rome purchased it from the Torlonia family in 1977. Since 1978, the Villa has been opened to the public and restored by the Municipality of Rome.  

In November 1983, thieves stole the torso and about 14 other pieces from the villa. It was brought to the United States in the 1990s through a gallery that sold it to the New Yorker.

The torso isn’t the first object to be recovered since the theft.

A 1st Century A.D. disembodied Dionysus head surfaced at an American auction house in 2002. It was returned to Italy in 2006 along with what media accounts described as a another headless statue, although it wasn’t clear if that torso was part of the Torlonia heist.

Other bodies and body parts that remain at large include a Roman copy of a 4th Century B.C. Greek statue of Hercules and a marble head believed to that of Emperor Constantine.