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Police return dismantled church to Italy in US art row

Published on Mar 29, 2014 11:20 PM

ROME (AFP) - A church in southern Italy dismantled by an artist who planned to rebuild it at New York's Museum of Modern Art is being returned to its original site, Italian police said on Saturday.

Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli last year carefully took apart and wrapped up the pretty church in the small village of Montegiordano in Calabria, built at the end of the 19th century and later desecrated - much to the horror of local inhabitants, who said it was national heritage.

Their protests sparked an investigation by the local cultural superintendent in Cosenza and the shipment out of Italy was blocked in October, with police seizing the huge crates of stones in a hangar in the local port.

"The sections of the church were found in the port of Gioia Tauro, perfectly packaged and arranged in 11 containers, ready to be sent to the United States, without any export authorisation. They are now being returned to Montegiordano," the police said in a statement on Saturday.

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