Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marion True: statement

Marion True has given a full statement to The Art Newspaper ("Neither condemned nor vindicated", January 5, 2010) in the wake of the discontinued trial in Rome. She talks about the creation of the acquisition policy for the J. Paul Getty Museum:
And from 1987, at the request of Getty president Harold Williams, I worked with legal counsel to formulate an acquisition policy for antiquities that called for direct notification of the ministries of Mediterranean countries when purchases were proposed, and requested any information or objections to acquisitions under consideration. The policy also demanded that the ministries have immediate notification of objects acquired and, most importantly, the return of any object that could be proven to be illicitly excavated or smuggled. At the time this policy was the most stringent among major US museums, and was strengthened in 1995 with the requirement that any object proposed for acquisition be published as something known to the scholarly world before 1995.
She links her trial directly with the desire for Italy to return the Morgantina Aphrodite.

True's statement reminds us that some images from the Medici Dossier were made available on the Carabinieri website in 1999.

She talks about Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman and their collection.
We were, in fact, competitors in the market. The Fleischmans built a fine collection with intelligence and passion—but it was not made for the Getty.
She draws attention to the way that North American museums returned objects to Italy and comments on the current allegations surrounding the Princeton University Art Museum:
The strategy worked extremely well. American museums chose not to join forces to challenge the Italian position, but silently went their separate ways, with directors travelling to Italy to make private deals to return objects in the hope of appeasing the prosecutor. There was even a sense of relief that I was the only target of the Italians. Yet, it now appears that I will not be the only victim. Six months ago, The New York Times announced that a second American curator, Michael Padgett of Princeton University Art Museum, is under investigation together with another group of dealers for charges very similar to those lodged against me. This too in spite of Princeton’s willingness to work with Italy to return disputed objects.
She is defiant and closes with this comment:
If the case against Princeton goes forward, perhaps American museums will stand together and not yield to intimidation.
Yet it is hard to escape the fact that over 130 recently-surfaced antiquities have been returned to Italy from North American public and private collections.

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