Ancient fresco stolen from Pompeii

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Italy’s culture ministry calls emergency meeting to address security issues at the site

By Hannah McGivern. Web only
Published online: 21 March 2014


A 20 cm-wide section of the fresco, showing the goddess Artemis and her twin brother Apollo, was reportedly removed with a metal object

The Italian culture minister has called the second emergency meeting this month with the heads of Pompeii to “reinforce management and security” after part of a fresco was stolen from the House of Neptune and Amphitrite.

Dario Franceschini met Wednesday with the archaeological site’s new superintendent, Massimo Osanna, the director general, Giovanni Nistri, the deputy director, Fabrizio Magani, of the “Great Pompeii Project”, and the commander of the art crime unit of the carabinieri, Mariano Ignazio Mossa. This meeting comes less than three weeks after politicians convened to discuss the collapse of buildings at the site caused by heavy rains.

The group decided on a number of measures to take immediate effect, including recruiting extra guards, installing new video cameras and fences, consulting with the carabinieri on theft prevention and with Rome’s state school of conservation on the damage done to the House of Neptune and Amphitrite.

A 20 cm-wide section of the fresco, showing the goddess Artemis and her twin brother Apollo, was reportedly removed with a metal object. The theft was discovered by a guard on 12 March, but withheld for several days as police carried out preliminary investigations. It is not known when it occurred, as the area is closed to visitors and not covered by the 24-hour video surveillance system.

An initial theory that the fresco had been taken away for conservation was quickly disproved. Another wall painting fragment, from the House of the Orchard, was previously stolen from an on-site laboratory during restoration, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports. It was returned anonymously in January from a post office in Florence.

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