|Etruscan hydria formerly in Toledo|
I am grateful to Paul Barford for drawing my attention to the ICE press release ("Transfer ceremony clears way for looted ancient vessel to be returned to Italy") about the handover of the hydria on Tuesday January 8, 2013. There is a quote from Toledo's Director, Brian Kennedy: "we have uncovered evidence that it has inadequate provenance". What Kennedy means it that the collecting history was flawed and that the archaeological context had been lost through illicit activity. But why had the Toledo curators failed to spot this at the time of the acquisition? And why has it taken Toledo so long to respond to the Italian requests?
The ICE statement notes that the return of the hydria was "part of a larger scheme by the Becchinas to sell illegitimately obtained cultural property". Moreover we are assured by the words of William Hayes, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Securities Investigations (HSI) Detroit: "And other governments around the world can be assured that HSI remains a committed partner in the effort to return stolen and looted priceless cultural objects to their rightful owners".
|Minoan larnax from the Becchina archive|
What the Toledo in fact indicates is that the focus will now shift from the Medici Dossier to the Becchina archive of some 10,000 photographs and documents. Will we seeing further returns during 2013?