A tourist who stole an ancient relic from a Rome museum three years ago shipped it back to Italy along with a letter apologizing ‘for being such an American a*****e.’
Management at the National Roman Museum was surprised to recently receive a bulky package postmarked from Atlanta, Georgia.
It contained a fragment of ancient marble that was inscribed with the message: ‘To Sam, (heart) Jess, Rome 2017.’
The package also had a letter from a young woman named Jess who sought forgiveness for taking something that was not ‘rightfully mine,’ according to the Guardian.
The National Roman Museum in Rome recently received a package containing an ancient piece of marble that was scribbled with the writing: ‘To Sam, (heart) Jess, Rome 2017.’ The package included a letter from an American tourist apologizing for stealing the artifact
Museum officials are unsure of where the artifact was taken from, though it is thought to have been swiped at the Roman Forum (above), the site of important political and religious activities in Ancient Rome dating back to 500 BC
‘I feel terrible for not only stealing this item from its rightful place, but placing writing on it,’ she wrote.
‘It was a big mistake on my part and only now, as an adult, do I realize just how thoughtless and despicable it was.’
Jess wrote that she tried to wash off the message, which she inscribed using a black marker pen. But she was unable to erase the writing.
Museum officials are uncertain of the exact place from where the marble was taken, though it is thought to have originated at the Roman Forum, a site of important political and religious activities at around 500 BC.
‘From its tone we imagine it was a young woman,’ Stephane Verger, the director of the National Roman Museum, told Il Messaggero newspaper.
‘In 2017 she must have come to Rome, and took this fragment of marble in order to gift it to her boyfriend.
‘It made an impact on me precisely because she is young – she understood that she had made a mistake.’
This is the second time in two months that a North American tourist shipped back ancient artifacts that were stolen from a historic site in Italy.
Last month, it was revealed that a Canadian tourist who stole artifacts from Pompeii in 2005 returned them to the ancient city claiming they gave her 15 years of bad luck.
The woman, known only as Nicole, 36, sent a package containing two mosaic tiles, a piece of ceramics and parts of an amphora to a travel agent in the southern Italian city.
She also wrote a letter of confession in which she detailed her theft and her subsequent run of misfortune, including two cases of breast cancer and financial hardship.
According to The Telegraph, she wrote: ‘Please, take them back, they bring bad luck.’
She said she took the artifacts because she wanted to own a piece of history that no one else had, but they had ‘so much negative energy… linked to that land of destruction’.
Pompeii was destroyed after Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, covering the ancient city in volcanic ash, preserving it until it was rediscovered in the 16th century.
Nicole added that she had learned her lesson asked for forgiveness from God.
She said: ‘I am now 36 and had breast cancer twice. The last time ending in a double mastectomy.
Last month, it was revealed that a Canadian tourist who stole artifacts from Pompeii in 2005 returned them to the ancient city because they were ‘cursed.’ The above file photo shows the archaeological site of Pompeii
‘My family and I also had financial problems. We’re good people and I don’t want to pass this curse on to my family or children.’
Her package also contained another letter of confession written by a couple from Canada who stole from the site in 2005.
She said they took the artifacts without thinking of those who suffered there thousands of years ago.
The ancient city is one of the most visited attractions in Italy and has had to contend with many tourists pilfering its ruins.
So many stolen relics have been returned to the site along with letters expressing guilt that officials at Pompeii set up a museum to display them.
Some thieves have even tried to sell parts of Pompeii online, with a brick from the ruins appearing on eBay in 2015.
Museum officials in Rome wondered whether the American tourist who shipped back the marble did so after reading about Nicole.
‘Who knows?’ said Verger. ‘Maybe she did hear about the Canadian woman.
‘The year 2020, decimated by the Covid pandemic, has made people reflect, as well as moved the conscience.
‘The fact is that three years after the theft, she returned it – it’s a very important symbolic gesture.’
According to Verger, the marble originated in Asia Minor.
Jess made sure that the relic would arrive in one piece as she prepared the delivery package with care.
‘The letter accompanying it was quite moving,’ Verger said.