• Press release
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  • London
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  • For immediate release
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  • 12 February 2019

Works of Art Returned to Italy in Collaboration with the Italian Embassy, London

London - A group of eight works of art were returned to Italy today in a project of cooperation facilitated by the Italian Embassy, London, Christie’s and the current owners of the objects. The works, that had been acquired in the past in good faith, were more recently identified as not having the required, verifiable title, export or provenance details needed to proceed with a sale and as such were returned voluntarily.

Our primary goal today is to return these objects and to raise awareness of how vital it is to have access to all information to continue to ensure only legitimate works are offered to the market. Research and its publication is a vital part of our work,” said Stephen Brooks, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s. “As custodians of the art that passes through our doors, we have a duty to carefully research the art and objects we handle and sell. There is a well-established, honourable market in the arts of the ancient world. Our processes of due diligence make full use of current, available research and we continue to work closely with organisations, authorities and art loss databases to ensure we have verifiable title and provenance.


Christie’s are fully committed to the elimination of any modern trade in illicit antiquities.  In line with company policy, if an object is identified and confirmed as not having the correct export or provenance details, Christie’s will work with all parties and authorities to try to facilitate a solution for that work, including in some cases, the restitution of the piece. It remains highly unusual for works to be withdrawn from the sale process, representing less than 0.8% of the hundreds of items offered.

We would like to thank all parties involved. We are honoured by the presence today of Mr. Alberto Bonisoli, the Minister for Culture and we would like to thank Mr. Raffaele Trombetta, the Italian Ambassador, for his support with this project. With even closer future cooperation, we hope to ensure the required research takes place ahead of catalogue publication to continue to ensure only legitimate objects are offered in our auctions,” Mr. Brooks concluded.

Christie’s are global auction leaders in sales of Antiquities.  While the company remains sensitive to claims for restitution by source countries of cultural property, there is a long-standing and legitimate market for works of antiquity which have been collected for centuries and have had a profound effect on the development of Western culture. 

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About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

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