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Italy unveils record haul of rare antiquities

Carabinieri Gen. Mariano Mossa, left, and Italian Culture minister Dario Franceschini pose for photographers near antiquities displayed at Terme di Diocleziano museum during a press conference in Rome on Wednesday. (AP)


Authorities have unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses belonging to an accused Sicilian art dealer.

Police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, kraters, bronze statues and frescoes at about 50 million euros ($58 million). The works, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century, were laid out Wednesday at the National Roman Museum and may go on public display.

Carabineri Gen. Mariano Mossa says it was "by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of archaeological treasures."

They were found during an investigation into Basel-based art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, accused by prosecutors of being part of a huge trafficking network.