Human Interest

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Naples, Italy

Centuries-Old Statue Found in North Carolina

April 06, 2009 09:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A 17th-century statue stolen from a church in Italy was found in North Carolina, making for another remarkable recent recovery of a lost possession.

Return of St. Innocent Statue

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The bust of Saint Innocent was stolen from a church in Naples, Italy, almost 20 years ago, according to The Charlotte Observer, along with 16 other busts and two oil paintings.

It was retrieved from a collector in Charlotte, N.C., in 2008 with the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators. An investigation started in 2007, after ICE workers were told an Italian man sold the statue to antiques dealers in the United States.

Cultural officials in Italy say they still consider the statue a national treasure, despite the fact that pieces of it are missing and the paint is wearing thin.

Just recently, the statue was authenticated, and officials were planning its return to Italy.

This story is just one example of a treasured item making a long journey before returning to its rightful home.

For example, in 2008, a tornado in Georgia sent a photo flying 130 miles to the driveway of Denise Caudell’s home. The photo’s subject, Mike Turner, had been critically injured by the storm, and his wife Bonnie Jean had been killed.

Moved by the seemingly impossible circumstances under which the photo found its way into her hands, Caudell has promised to mail it back to the Turner family.

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Related: Reunited pets and objects

A Cat Comes Home

In 2007, staff at an animal shelter discovered that a cat that had been given to them was implanted with a microchip, and its owner lived 60 miles away. When they called Patricia Charnet, “She thought they had made a mistake,” according to the BBC. The cat, named Lynx, had disappeared from Charnet’s home in 1997. “If only she could talk she would have a story to tell,” Charnet said.

Lost Possessions Returned

The West County Journal listed several examples of owners who were reunited with lost items. A camp counselor who lost her wallet returned to the same lake next year to find it near the dock where she lost it—still intact. Another man got a call one day saying his stamp collection, missing for more than 60 years, had been found. Sometimes it is coincidence, and sometimes labeling possessions can help them find their way back.

During a routine home inspection in 2004, John Deal saw a strange object next to some stairs, a class ring from the University of Michigan-Flint. The University Record reported that his daughter saw initials inside the ring and called the alumni office. Vincent Brattin researched the matter and found the ring’s owner, Russ Braden, who had lost it while visiting friends in 1975.

Meanwhile, in 2006, customs officials discovered that a 1968 International Blue Corvette that was on its way from California to Sweden had actually been stolen in 1969. The case was passed to New York City’s auto crimes division, where two detectives wagered a steak dinner on finding the owner. They found Alan Poster, who was 26 and recently divorced when his car was stolen. “That was the first year of this Corvette, which was a muscle car, all ego. And that was lost when I lost the car,” he told British newspaper The Guardian.
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