Roman Empire bombshell as couple's coffee table turns out to be 2,000-year-old artefact

The Roman mosaic, which spent half a century in an apartment in Manhattan, dates back to the period of emperor Caligula’s reign. Caligula was in control of the Roman Empire from 37 AD until he was assassinated in 41 AD. The spectacular artefact featured on the CBS show ‘60 Minutes’ on Sunday, where Dario Del Bufalo, a marble expert from Italy, explained how he stumbled upon the ultra-rare artefact by chance.

Mr Del Bufalo cast his memory back to 2013, when he was at his book signing for his work ‘Porphery’, which contains information about the extraordinary rocks that Roman emperors used for their art and architecture.

The marble expert said that when he was there, he ran into a couple who instantly spotted a mosaic pattern that was printed on the cover of the book.

Mr Del Bufalo said: “There was a lady with a young guy with a strange hat that came to the table.

“And he told her, ‘What a beautiful book. Oh, Helen, look, that’s your mosaic.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, that’s my mosaic.’”

When Mr Del Bufalo questioned the couple, they revealed that the artefact was made up the top part of their coffee table in their Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan, New York.

Until then, it was believed that the precious artefact had gone missing.

Its original purpose was for tiling, forming the floor of a ship that sank in Italy’s Lake Nemi in ancient times before being unearthed in the 1930s.

The left-over mosaics were kept at a museum by Lake Nemi until 1944.
It is claimed by Italy that when the Nazis invaded, they used the museum as a bomb shelter and burned its contents when they retreated.

The coffee table’s owner was Helen Fioratti, an art dealer and gallery owner for European antique.

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