Thursday, January 16, 2014

Italy requests return of Symes material from UK

An earlier return to Italy (from Switzerland).
Source: Carabinieri
Cristina Ruiz and Javier Pes are reporting in The Art Newspaper ("Italy threatens to sue UK firm over ancient ‘loot’", January 16, 2014) that the Italian government has requested that the UK Government return some 700 objects identified as being removed from Italy. The Italian authorities had worked with DCMS to identify relevant material following agreement in the autumn of 2007. It appears that if there is no response that the Italians will consider taking legal action the UK company handling the seized assets of dealer Robin Symes. It could be the first series use of the Dealing in Cultural Offences Act (2003).

Cambridge University researcher, Dr Christos Tsirogiannis, is quoted. It appears that he requested the information during his research into Symes. (I had also made several enquiries but without success.)

The news report states, "Sources close to the Italian investigators say that Italy has provided ample evidence to substantiate its claim and that it is up to the liquidator to prove that the material is not looted." This is likely to have been photographic images mainly derived from the Schinousa archive but could include other dossiers seized in Switzerland.

Greece also appears to have identified material among the assets but has yet to make a formal request.

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