I am devastated to report that my Roman idyll is at an end. confiscated the piece (which was being used as a coffee table in New York City) last month as part of an investigation into antiquities trafficking.I still have at least two more posts I want to write about the wonders I’ve seen, but not today because I’ve been up for what feels like a hundred hours straight and so am going with a new story. On Thursday evening, a section of marble flooring from a great barge built by the infamous Emperor Caligula was officially returned to Italy. The investigation revealed the true origin of the “coffee table” was one of the Ships of Nemi, built around 35 A.D., and that it had been stolen from Italy during World War II.
This one piece of marble mosaic floor is one of only a handful of objects still known to exist from the Nemi Ships.
The antiques dealer, Helen Fioratti, said she and her husband, Nereo Fioratti, a journalist, had bought the mosaic in good faith in the late 1960s from a member of an aristocratic family. “It was our favorite thing and we had it for 45 years.” Ms.
It wasn’t just a failure, it was enormously destructive.
The scale of the barges and their depth (about 60 feet below the surface) made getting purchase on the whole structure impossible.
Allied bombs hit the museum in response to Nazi anti-aircraft artillery.