Police in Italy recover 250 stolen antique nativity figurines

Neapolitan presepio (Nativity scene) at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Photo by Pschemp, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

ROME (AP) – Italy’s carabinieri police say they’ve recovered about 250 hand-crafted nativity scene figurines dating from the 18th century that were stolen from churches and private homes in recent years.

The shepherds, crafted in the traditional Neapolitan style, are estimated to be worth over 2 million euros, though police said their artistic and cultural value was inestimable. The figures were displayed at a news conference Friday by police detailing the recovery.

Paolo Albano, chief prosecutor in Isernia, who coordinated the investigation, said so far the rightful owners of just 49 statues have been identified. The remaining statues will be entrusted to a foundation until the owners come forward.

Neapolitan artisans are renowned worldwide for crafting extraordinarily realistic nativity scenes that often take over entire living rooms in Italy at Christmastime.


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