U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas has recovered a 19th century painting that was stolen from the Abbey of Santa Maria in Sylvis in Sesto al Reghena, Italy, in May of 2002.
The painting, called "The Assumption of the Virgin Mary," was created by Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in August 1851.
Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas located the painting after receiving a tip from the HSI Attaché Office in Rome in 2019.
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HSI Dallas used the tip to tracked the painting to a private art collector in the Dallas area. According to Homeland Security Investigations, the collector had purchased the painting in 2015 from a dealer who did not know that it was stolen.
The private collector voluntarily agreed to hand the artwork over to HSI after learning of the painting's origins so that it could be returned to the monastery in Italy.
"Investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their countries of origin is an important part of HSI's diverse mission" Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas, said. "Our specially trained investigators and attachés in more than 40 countries not only partner with governments, agencies and experts who share our mission to protect these items, but they train the investigators of other nations and agencies on how to find, authenticate and enforce the law to recover these items when they emerge in the marketplace."
This is investigation was led by HSI Dallas and assisted by the HSI Attaché Office in Rome and the HSI Headquarters Cultural Property, Arts, and Antiquities Division in Washington, D.C.