Closeup pics are here http://www.repubblica.it/speciali/arte/gallerie/2012/07/19/foto/il_sarcofago_delle_quadrighe_di_aquino-39309698/1/
For those who don't know italian here's a google translation of the article. (Google still needs to work on this)
ROME - After 21 years he returned to Italy the famous "Sarcophagus of Quadrighe by Aquino," dating from the third century after Christ. It had been stolen in the church of Madonna della Libera Aquino, in the province of Frosinone, in the night between 2 and 3 September 1991, after a foiled robbery attempt at the first few days earlier. The Roman sarcophagus, one of the few examples made in alabaster reliefs showing a chariot race in a circus oval, and the customs value of several million euros, was on the list of the most wanted by Italian authorities.
He landed at Fiumicino airport yesterday with a cargo flight from London. He had the seal of the Italian Embassy in London and was sealed in the midst of furniture and pieces of furniture sent to Rome on behalf of the ambassador. To retrieve the men were protecting archaeological heritage of the Group of the Guardia di Finanza, led by Major Massimo Rossi.
The sarcophagus had been identified by the financiers in November last year. It was in the hands of Robert Hecht, the most famous and powerful American antiques (he sold to the Metropolitan Musem in New York on Euphronios vase to one million euros, then returned
Italy in 2008), on trial in Italy since 2005 on charges of being a smuggler of ancient artefacts. Hecht had expressed the intention to cooperate with international authorities and had begun to negotiate the return of some of the works in his possession. Among these is the tomb of Aquino. But on February 9, aged 92, died at his home in Paris.
And 'then began a long negotiation with financiers of Major Smith's heirs Hecht and foreign authorities, which ended yesterday in a legally classified as "spontaneous delivery" of the object. In excellent condition, the coffin will be presented to the press this morning at 11 in a press conference.
The specimen was found in 800 Roman digging in the same church where Aquino was used as an altar until the night of the theft in 1991. At that time we were doing restoration work and for many months the church had been invaded by scaffolding outside and inside, and perhaps not properly policed. The theft, which the authors were never discovered, affected not only the tomb but also the two lions on which rested