It was two Italian carabinieri, who saw the statue in the shopwindow, during a walk after hours. The members of the Italian paramilitary police force work for the force’s archaeological division and hit on the statue in a shopwindow at the Zavel, an area famous for its antiques stores.
The carabinieri took photos of the marble statue because they thought it looked like an artefact that came from Italy. Back home they checked the Leonardo databank of stolen works of art and discovered the statue had been lifted from an archaeological site, the Villa Marini Dettina on the outskirts of Rome, in November 2011.
The statue is a ‘Togatus’ representing a gentleman in a toga. Its head is missing but it’s thought to be worth 100,000 euros.
Italian investigators identified a Spanish businessman as a suspect in connection with the theft. He stands accused of receiving the statue from the thieves and exporting it.
Thanks to help from the Belgian authorities the statue has already been returned to Italy.