A trove of fine art, military documents, and architectural drawings that were allegedly stolen by an Israeli antiques dealer from Russian museums were returned to the government in a ceremony at U.S ambassador John Tefft’s residence in Moscow this week.
Included in the 30 recovered items were four documents signed by Empress Elizabeth, and Emperors Paul I, Alexander I, and Alexander II. The four items were allegedly stolen by Vladimir Feinberg, a Russian antique dealer and reputed gang leader living in Israel.
The items were tracked down by U.S homeland Security agents in 2011 after noticing them for sale at an auction house in Addison, Illinois, reported the Associated Press.
According to Russian authorities, Feinberg has allegedly stolen $24 million dollars worth of works of art and artifacts from the Hermitage Museum and the Russian National Archives in the past 30 years. However, Russian authorities have not been able to win Feinberg’s extradition.
In the ceremony, a document signed by Emperor Peter the Great, valued at over $12,000 dollars, a decree signed by Joseph Stalin, and some of Russian architect Yakov Chernikhov’s sketches were also returned. Since 2007, the United States has returned hundreds of stolen artifacts to the Russian Government. About 2,500 pages of documents from Moscow and St. Petersburg have been stolen since the late 20th century.
So far, only about 500 of these stolen items have been returned. The recovered items will be taken to a highly secured archival building in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to the AP.