Friday, July 27, 2012

Roman sarcophagus recovered in London

Source: Omniroma
The Italian Ministry of Culture has announced that it has recovered a Roman sarcophagus stolen from the Chiesa della Madonna della Libera di Aquino [press release]. The item was removed on 2/3 September 1991. It dates from the second century AD.

The return was made as part of Operation Giovenale.

Cristina Bassi, writing in Il Giornale, notes that it was in the "collection" of Robert Hecht.
Il sarcofago era nella collezione di Robert Hecht, uno dei più celebri antiquari americani, il cui nome è stato spesso legato a vicende di traffici di opere d’arte.

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1 comment:

livius said...

I don't think the timeline supports the hypothesis that Hecht was the anonymous collector who owned the sarcophagus. All the articles (including Bassi's) say the executor of the deceased Collector X's will first contacted the state prosecutor in the summer of 2011. The mayor of Aquino announced the repatriation deal in November 2011 (see here: http://www.ilpuntoamezzogiorno.it/2011/11/14/sarcofago-romano-rubato-ad-aquino-e-trafugato-allestero-ritrovato-dalla-guardia-di-finanza/ ).

Hecht was still on trial then, and of course still alive. Even if the reports that the collector was dead before the executor initiated negotiations is inaccurate, surely any arrangements Hecht would have made to return ill-gotten goods at that point would have involved his criminal defense attorneys, not the future executor of his estate.

I think people heard "dead collector/receiver of stolen goods" and assumed Hecht without looking too closely at the particulars. It seems to me we should be looking at London-based collectors who died around or before summer of 2011.

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