Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Getty May Return Looted Antiquities

The Getty Museum will offer to return as many as twenty-one art objects currently in its collections to Italy as part of negotiations over looted art and artifacts, the LATimes reports. This is the ongoing saga of thefts and illegal transactions well documented in the new book The Medici Conspiracy, which I reviewed last week.

According to the Times story, an internal museum audit "last year found that 350 [in addition to 52 already claimed by Italy] objects had been acquired from dealers either convicted or implicated in the trafficking of looted antiquities. The number was far greater than publicly known and had not been disclosed to Italian authorities." Now that the information has become public, there is some question about whether the Italians will accept the return of just a few items; they have previously said that at minimum they want the 52 identified items returned (although there is speculation that the Getty and Italy could reach an agreement similar to that entered into by the Met in New York, whereby some objects are returned in exchange for long-term loans of similar items).

This story continues to develop on several fronts, not just at the Getty but also in Italy itself, where former Getty curator Marion True is on trial for conspiracy in relation to the purchase of stolen artifacts.

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