Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dallas and Almagià

Two Etruscan bronze shields
Source: DMA
The Dallas Museum of Art has divulged information into the enquiry into the activities of Edoardo Almagià. Among the objects that are to be returned to Italy are two Etruscan bronze shields acquired from Almagià in 1998.

The museum has made a statement about Almagià:
Edoardo Almagià, a former New York antiquities dealer, is currently named in a criminal case for conspiracy to commit the illegal export and smuggling of cultural property pending before the Public Prosecutor of Rome. Almagià has been under investigation since at least 2006, when U.S. Customs officials raided his New York apartment, confiscating photographs, documents, and archaeological material. He was also the subject of a New York Times story in 2010 that revealed he and Michael Padgett, former antiquities curator at the Princeton University Art Museum, were the focus of an investigation of the illegal export and laundering of Italian archaeological objects. The Italian government named Almagià in the criminal case for having “sold, donated, or lent” nearly two dozen works looted from Italian sites to the Princeton Museum. Roughly twenty other objects are listed in the case as having been obtained illegally by Almagià and sold to other American institutions in the 1980s and 1990s, including this pair of shields.
It appears that the raid on Almagia`s New York apartment provided "compelling evidence, including photographs, that object was looted and/or illegally exported".

Does this mean that there is equally compelling evidence for objects acquired by other museums? What are other museums in North America and beyond even now searching their records to identify potentially toxic acquisitions? And was Almagià selling to private collectors? Who were they?

And why is Princeton being mentioned in such an explicit way in the Dallas statement?

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