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Francesco Rutelli on Robin Symes

Francesco Rutelli, the one-time Italian Minister for Culture (MiBAC) who can be credited with the success of retrieving so many looted antiquities, has issued a press statement about Robin Symes today. This appears to be in response to yesterday's news that the Symes collection would be dispersed.

Here is Rutelli's original text:
Al Ministro per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

Premesso che

- il Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali ha intrapreso a partire dall'estate 2007 un negoziato extragiudiziale con la Commissione Liquidatrice della Collezione Symes nominata dal Tribunale di Londra al fine di verificare la possibilità di recuperare beni archeologici appartenenti al patrimonio italiano;

- che la collezione Symes rappresenta uno dei più scandalosi fenomeni di accumulo di beni archeologici attraverso operazioni illecite, intermediazioni disinvolte, acquisizioni di patrimoni trafugati illegalmente, in misura molto rilevante provenienti dal nostro Paese;

- che il recupero di capolavori archeologici trafugati dall'Italia nell'arco degli ultimi anni ha permesso di evidenziare numerose, gravissime operazioni commerciali poste in essere da Robin Symes e suoi collaboratori, che hanno coinvolto, tra l'altro, la Venere di Morgantina, la Kylix di Onesimos - Eufronio, il volto d'avorio proveniente da Cesano, 4 importanti reperti restituiti dal Getty Museum nel 2007 a conclusione di un serrato negoziato condotto dal Ministro per i Beni e le Attività Culturali;

- che il negoziato della Commissione preposta nel MIBAC al recupero delle opere italiane con la Commissione liquidatrice è bloccato su un binario morto;

- che non risulta alcune iniziativa del Ministro per sbloccare questa situazione incresciosa;

- che sono stati posti all'asta a Londra, il prossimo 15 ottobre, alcuni importanti reperti provenienti dalla collezione Symes;

per sapere

- quali iniziative il Ministro intenda prendere per recuperare al patrimonio italiano le numerose opere indubbiamente provenienti dal territorio nazionale illecitamente acquisite dal signor Symes e dai suoi collaboratori;

- quali iniziative il governo abbia preso per bloccare la messa all'asta di capolavori che potrebbero essere stati trafugati dall'Italia.


Sen. Francesco Rutelli

Essentially, Rutelli draws attention to way that MiBAC has been negotiating with the liquidators of the Symes collection to recover archaeological material that appears to have been derived from Italy. Rutelli reminds us of the "scandalous phenonmenon" (scandalosi fenomeni) of the way that the material was acquired and draws attention to some of the pieces returned from major North American museums that have been associated with Symes (see my overview). Rutelli calls on Sandro Bondi, the present Italian Minister for Culture, to resolve the issue.

Rutelli feels that time is of the essence. Important pieces from the Symes "collection" are due to be auctioned in London next Wednesday, October 15. (I have already noted that an Apulian volute krater from the Robin Symes collection is due to appear at Bonham's next Wednesday. Is this what Rutelli is talking about? Are other items in the sale derived from the same source but not listed as such?)

Rutelli calls on the Italian Minister to take urgent action. First, he asks that the Minister to identify his plan of action to recover antiquities (now in the Symes "collection") that may have been removed from Italy illegally. Second, he urges the Italian government to block the auction of objects that may have been looted from archaeological sites in Italy.

Further comments have been issued via ANSA and they will be discussed separately.

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