Italian carabinieri art police said an unnamed collector had tried to resell angels at an antique shop in Avignon, France, before planning to move from France to Portugal when French art police reported them as possible stolen goods.
Italian art police said Tuesday that angels adorned with a strategically placed vine of leaves and fruit had been stolen on December 13, 1989, from St. Sebastian’s Church in Guardia San Framond, northeastern Naples. According to police, the collector was unaware of the origin of the angels and offered to return them without legal battle.
They were officially handed over to Italy on Tuesday at an event held at the French Embassy.
In their statement, the Carabinieri noted that the churches in the area had been the subject of numerous thefts after the 1980 Irpinia earthquake, when southern Italy had been conquered by huge spindles.
Police noted that another group of angels, similarly reported stolen in the Carabiners database, was recently returned to another church in Guardia Sanframond after being in an antique shop in Milan and identified by the church pastor.