Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ny Carlsberg: failure to co-operate leads to intervention of ambassador

A diplomatic row is brewing between Denmark and Italy ("Ambassador mediates in a case of stolen artefacts", The Copenhagen Post February 3, 2009). Denmark's ambassador to Italy has been drawn into the dispute relating to antiquities acquired by the Ny Carlsberg (see earlier story).

Presumably the negotiations initiated by Italy in January 2007 had not been making progress. The Post notes, "for more than two years the museum and the Danish culture ministry gave various reasons for not co-operating in the investigation". But the pressure has been stepping up:

In December 2008, the Italians presented a list of 100 artefacts that they believed were acquired illegally and wanted returned. The Glyptoteket management refused to oblige, stating that many of the objects on the list were purchased legally after the former administrators, who are suspected of purchasing the alleged illegal artefacts, left their positions at the museum.
The paper also notes, "Many of the illegal artefacts purchased by Glyptoteket during the 1970s were from art dealers Robert Hecht and Giacomo Medici."
The Ny Carlsberg has been asserting that Italy has no legal claim. But perhaps its curatorial staff should consider more important questions. Did the museum acquire objects that were unknown prior to 1970? Were these acquisitions ethical?

So what could the museum do to move ahead? Why not publish the list of the 100 objects along with their collecting histories?

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