Thursday, August 9, 2007

The 'Value' of the Getty Return

A few days ago I suggested that the purchase value of the recently announced antiquities from the Getty would be in excess of US$20 million.

I see that the LA Times (Jason Felch and Ari Bloomekatz, 'Getty's accord removes shadow', August 3, 2007) has reported :
"The 40 antiquities were purchased for nearly $40 million over 30 years. No compensation will be given for their return."
Given that the vendors include Robin Symes - who is reported to have sold the 'Morgantina' Aphrodite for US$18 million - it seems unlikely that the Getty will get much back. Perhaps it is worth asking the Getty's former trustee, Barbara Fleischman, for a donation from the reported US$20 million that was paid for 33 items from the Fleischman collection (some of the pieces either have been or will be returned to Italy); the rest of the Fleischman collection was donated for US$40 million.

The same article LA Times also notes "the Getty's grant of more than $450,000 for the conservation of paintings in Rome's Santuario Scala Santa". The US$40 million wasted - and I do not use that word lightly - on these acquisitions is the equivalent of nearly 90 such conservation projects.

What are the priorities?

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