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James Gandolfini’s Body to Return to US on Monday

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO(ROME) -- The body of James Gandolfini will return to the United States Monday evening, a spokesman for the Gandolfini family said Sunday in Rome, Italy.

"We are now looking at hopefully getting James Gandolfini's remains back to the States tomorrow. The provisional plan is to depart Rome tomorrow afternoon and arrive in the U.S. in the evening," family spokesman Michael Kobold said in a statement Sunday morning.

Kobold thanked Italian officials for their help in returning Gandolfini home.

"On behalf of the Gandolfini family, I would like to thank the Italian authorities for all the assistance they have rendered in expediting the formalities necessary to repatriate James Gandolfini's remains to the United States. It has been our privilege to be guests in your beautiful country, despite the difficult circumstances. We sincerely thank you," he stated.

Kobold also thanked the US State Department, including Secretary of State Kerry and former Secretary of State Clinton.

James Gandolfini died at the age of 51 on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack in Italy.

An autopsy found the heart attack was brought on by natural causes.

Gandolfini had spent the day before his death sightseeing in Rome. He toured the Vatican with his 13-year-old son Michael before enjoying an outdoor meal as they waited for Gandolfini's sister to arrive.

Although it was reported that Gandolfini enjoyed an extravagant meal the night before he died, his family has disputed those reports.

Kobold said Gandolfini appeared to be in good health.

"Jim was a really happy guy, especially because he'd just had a baby daughter eight months ago," Kobold said. "He was extremely happy. He was healthy. There was nothing wrong with him, so this came as a surprise and a total shock."

Gandolfini was enjoying the vacation a few days before he was supposed to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily this past weekend and receive the Taormina City Prize.

On Wednesday, Gandolfini fell ill in his room at the Hotel Exedra. The actor was taken to a hospital around 10:40 p.m. as paramedics attempted to resuscitate him.

At the hospital, doctors attempted to resuscitate the actor for another 40 minutes, but were unsuccessful, according to Prof. Claudio Modini, director of the hospital's emergency department.

"We are all devastated by this loss," Kobold said Friday. "James was a devoted husband, the loving father of two children and a brother and cousin we could always count on."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Gandolfini.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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