The government returned over 240 priceless artefacts to Peru last week, which were among hundreds of pieces exhibited in 1997 in Santiago de Compostela by Costa Rican collector Leonardo Patterson, who still claims ownership of them. They date from before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The items, including golden necklaces and rings containing precious stones, and earthenware and metalwork pieces, have been valued at more than $100m. The Spanish authorities said he was not the rightful owner and offered to return the pieces to Latin America, if governments there laid a claim to them. Some pieces were seized, following a claim by Peru, but others remained in a warehouse until Mr Patterson tried to move them to Germany, where they were recovered by German police. They include more than 1,000 items, from the Aztec, Maya, Olmec and Inca cultures. Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica are among the countries looking into the collection. Mr Patterson, 66, said he has done nothing wrong and that he assembled the collection legally from several other collectors. He told reporters: “All of that stuff, I got it in Europe. I don’t traffic pieces.”


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