Saturday, November 3, 2007

Returning antiquities to Italy: next moves?

There has been a pattern of approaches to North American museums for the return of antiquities to Italy:
a. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art: 2006, February [press release]
b. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts: 2006, September [press release]
c. Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum: 2007, August [press release]
d. Princeton, University Art Museums: 2007, October [press release]

Then there are the pieces in the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville.

But where do the Italian investigations go from here?

The New York Times reports:
"Negotiations continue with private collectors of antiquities in the United States, as well as museums in Europe."

Material formerly owned by Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman has been returned from the Getty. And one of the significant North American private collectors is Shelby White.

Other news reports are more specific. Maurizio Fiorilli ("Italy, Princeton museum reach deal to return disputed antiquities") is quoted as saying that talks are now concentrating on "the New Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Miho Museum in Shiga, western Japan".

The Cleveland Museum of Art holds disputed material. This includes an Apulian volute-krater attributed to the Darius painter. James Kopniske is quoted as saying that Cleveland "had received a request for the return of a number of objects and has been conducting research on the artifacts".

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen appears to have purchased material from Robert Hecht. Bloomberg reported back in November 2005:
the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen has six allegedly looted items, all of which came through Medici, including the decorations of an Etruscan chariot for which Hecht is also charged ...

The Miho Museum may contain, according to one 2007 report ("Is Japan a Cultural Looter?"), some 50 items which are reported to be under investigation. Japanese press reports have suggested that some of the material may have come via Gianfranco Becchina ("Records Tie Japanese Dealer to Looted Antiquities").

With thousands of Polaroids to study it is likely that there will plenty more revelations.

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