Povoledo now reports that the Hecht trial has expired due to the statue of limitations ("Italian Trial of American Antiquities Dealer Comes to an End", New York Times blog, January 18, 2012).
The court ruling, issued Monday, came in response to a request from Mr. Hecht’s lawyer to dismiss the case because the statute of limitations on the charges had elapsed in 2011. The lawyer, Alessandro Vannucci, said he had hoped the trial would fully exonerate his client, who has always maintained his innocence, “but it was cut short.” This decision “does not do Bob justice,” he said, using Mr. Hecht’s nickname.The trial may be inconclusive but it has reminded those who collect antiquities that they need to check the documented histories prior to purchase as part of a rigorous due diligence search.
The judges did not express an opinion on culpability or innocence. But they ruled that a series of objects that had been confiscated from Mr. Hecht’s homes should return to their “rightful owner,” which was identified as the Italian state, a decision Mr. Vannucci said he would contest.
Hecht also appears to have supplied antiquities to the Ny Carlsberg in Copenhagen, as well as to public collections in the United Kingdom. Objects that were acquired directly or indirectly from Hecht are likely to appear in the thousands of photographs in the various photographic archives derived from dealers in Greece and in Switzerland.