Italian police have recovered a statue head believed to be of the mother of Roman emperor Nero — artwork that was stolen more than two decades ago from the ruins of Pompeii.

The announcement Thursday from the Carabinieri in the northern Italian city of Piacenza said a professional art trafficker had tried to sell the work but it was too well known to attract buyers.

Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, has been described as a ruthless, beautiful woman who in some historical accounts is said to have been killed by her own son in A.D. 59.

Twenty years later, in A.D. 79, the city of Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius.