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Robin Symes: The Dispersal Begins

Fabio Isman has updated the Robin Symes story ("Scandalo a Londra: l'arte rubata finisce in vendita", Il Messaggero October 8, 2008). Some 17,000 objects (worth 160 million Euros [= £125 million]) were recovered from 33 warehouses; see also Peter Watson and Celia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy, 254 [and my earlier comments]. It is now estimated (as a result of a study by a team from Italy) that 60% of the objects were removed from archaeological sites in Italy; that is to say over 10,000 of the items in storage. (Where were the other 7000 or so pieces found? Greece? Turkey?)

The present proprietors of the Symes' material are now reported to be dispersing the collection to realise his assets: hence the headline in Il Messaggero. I can now reveal that the British Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) informed me in April 2008 that an "arrangement involving the Italian Authorities and other parties ... was facilitated by this Department [sc. DCMS], which is specific to an individual case". The DCMS added: "Unfortunately we are unable to disclose any further details in respect of this arrangement as this information is confidential".

Who is responsible for dispersing the Symes material? Where will it be sold? Will it be in Europe, North America or the Middle East?

It will be interesting to see how this story develops.

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