Monday, October 18, 2010

Marion True: response

Hugh Eakin has posted a piece on "Marion True on her trial and ordeal" for the New Yorker (October 14, 2010). True comments:
My greatest sadness is that the Italians were able to intimidate the entire American art world, and especially museums, without having to produce any evidence at all. Why didn’t museums band together and say, “How are we going to deal with this?” They ran off instead to make their own deals—deals which may not exactly be very good in the long run. Why did we hand over all this stuff without asking for more documents? The trial was a gigantic threat that everyone reacted to. The message was, “You could be next.”
The answer appears to be that no museum wanted to have the evidence that the Italians were known to have presented in court, or given to the media. Museums have been able to get away without disclosing the collecting histories of the pieces: New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art have been silent.

True was forthright when asked about the Getty: "I have nothing but the greatest contempt for them in the world".

Eakin's post has now received a comment from "Anderson". There are frank comments about Italy but interestingly the suggestion that North American museums "have actually been really trying to help as best they can over the last couple of decades, as one would expect, dedicated as they are to the love of history, art and culture". In other words, "Anderson" would argue that since 1990 North American museums have been adopting an ethical position when it comes to acquisitions. Yet 27% of the pieces returned to Italy from five of the AAMD-linked museums were acquired AFTER 1990. Is "Anderson" missing a key lesson from the returns?

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