Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Their proper home is in Italy"

So, representatives of the Italian Ministry of Culture and the J. Paul Getty Museum today signed an agreement in Rome to return 40 antiquities (Press release). The understanding was reached in August.

Francesco Rutelli commented, “Today’s signing marks a new era ... a new season of clearness begins in the purchase trade of archaelogical goods."

Michael Brand, the director of the Getty acknowledged, "our scholarly research has shown that their proper home is in Italy".

But where does this leave the trial against Marion True and Robert Hecht?

Brand is reported to have said, "We certainly hope, on the Getty side, that this new spirit of collaboration will lead to the end of that case [sc. the True trial] and will allow the scholar to get back to her life, get back to her research".

I have already commented that looted material, wherever it resides, has lost its archaeological context. No agreement can return this information.

This may close a chapter for the Getty, but there are at least four other North American museums - and at least one in Europe - which are reported to have acquired material identified by the Polaroid photographs seized in Geneva.

The question is not, "will there be more signings?", but rather, "when will they take place?"

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