Canadian Returns Stolen Relics From Pompeii After 15 Years of Bad Luck

The woman says she has battled breast cancer twice and her family has struggled financially since she stole the artifacts.
Anya Zoledziowski
Toronto, CA
October 13, 2020, 2:17pm
Tourists walk along Pompeii in southern Italy
Visitors walk across the archeological site of Pompeii at the bottom of the Mount Vesuvius volcano on May 26, 2020. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP via Getty Images

A Canadian woman returned ancient artifacts that she stole 15 years ago because they gave her bad juju.

In 2005, a woman identified as Nicole by Italian newspaper Il Messaggero travelled to Pompeii in southern Italy, where she helped herself to two ancient white mosaic tiles, a piece of a ceramic wall, and fragments of an amphora case. The relics are remnants from the ancient city that was buried under volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. 

This year Nicole returned the artifacts, along with an apology letter, to a travel agent in Pompeii. The agent then took the contents to local police.

“I was young and stupid. I wanted to have a piece of history that no one could have,” Nicole, now 36, says in the letter.

Nicole has since blamed her heist on years of terrible luck, including two battles with breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and her family’s financial struggles.

“We are good people and I don't want to pass this curse on to my family or children,” the letter says. “Forgive me for the gesture made years ago, I learned my lesson...I am asking the forgiveness of the Gods.”

Nicole then writes that she plans to visit Italy soon, so she can apologize in person.

“Please accept these artifacts so that you do the right thing for the mistake I made,” Nicole wrote. “I'm so sorry, one day I will return to your beautiful country to apologize in person.”

Nicole said two friends also took little pieces from Pompeii. A letter from a pair listed as Alastain and Kimberly G. also arrived in the area recently: "I give you back these stones that my wife and I took while visiting Pompeii and Vesuvius in 2005,” the second letter says.

“We took them without thinking of the pain and suffering that these poor souls felt during the eruption of Vesuvius and the terrible death they had,” Alastain and Kimberly write. In the letter, the couple admits they made a terrible choice by stealing.

“We are sorry and please forgive us for making this terrible choice.” 

Pompeii Archeological Park told CTV News in a statement that the artifacts had been returned to their original home. The park also said Nicole’s actions aren’t exceptional: people frequently send packages with stolen objects from the site as well as apology letters claiming the stolen artifacts harbour bad luck and misfortune. There are about 100 similar letters at the site from all over the world today.

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