Treasure the Tales Behind the Art at The Grand

Priceless antiquities, grave robbers and high-tech counterfeits reveal the dark side of creativity.

Priceless antiquities. Ruthless grave robbers. High-tech counterfeits. International smuggling routes that run from the necropolises of Tarquinia, Italy, to the posh auction houses of London and from the seedy underbelly of the black market to world-renowned museums. Ripped from the case files of the Guardia di Finanza, stories like these will be told during Treasures and Tales of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza Art Recovery Team, a groundbreaking exhibition of priceless works of Etruscan and Greco-Roman art and craftsmanship, on display at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington from Oct. 3-Dec. 21. Each ancient ceramic, mosaic and statue tells a story, not just of the time of its creation, but also of its theft and recovery by the indefatigable agents of the Gruppo Tutela Patrimonio Archeologico, the art recovery team inside the Guardia di Finanza. The Guardia di Finanza, with headquarters in Rome, is the Italian law enforcement agency that fights financial crime and recovers stolen art and artifacts. This exhibit, making its only U.S. appearance in Delaware, comes on the heels of several successful shows of recovered art in Italy, most recently the Capolavori dell’archeologia: Recuperi, ritrovamenti, confronti (Masterpieces of Archaeology: Recovery, Findings, Comparisons) exhibition at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome in 2013. Treasures and Tales marks the first time many of these pieces, reclaimed for Italy and now in the custody of the Guardia di Finanza, have been exhibited outside of their homeland after being recovered. Italian authorities estimate that Italy loses more than 5,000 pieces of art to illegal smuggling every year. Highlights of this exhibition include Hercules and Hydra, one of only the few surviving neck-amphora attributed to Lysippides, famed Greek painter of the sixth century BC, whose art was traded throughout Italy for small fortunes at the time. Lt. Col. Massimo Rossi, chief in command of the Guardia di Finanza’s art recovery team, will be in Wilmington for the opening of the exhibition in October. “The masterpieces that will be shown in Wilmington were recovered in cooperation with other national police forces outside of Italy, or by foreign museum organizations that believed them to be legal at the time of their acquisition,” Rossi says. “Some of these works of art were ‘grave goods,’ beautiful pieces buried alongside the dead in Magna Graecia, Etruria and Sannio (an area in southern Italy), but also from other lesser-known places in Italy.” The exhibit will also include a few master forgeries, beautiful pieces of antiquity exposed as fakes by the Guardia di Finanza. Treasures and Tales runs from Oct. 3 through Dec. 21. Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at or by phone at 652-5577.  


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