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Looking back over 2009

I started the year by looking ahead.

I suggested that we would continue to see fallout from the Medici Conspiracy. This has included the seizure of a Corinthian krater from Christie's in New York, as well as two pieces that had passed through a gallery in California. A further mural fragment from the J. Paul Getty Museum has been returned to Italy; this seems to form part of a series of fragments that had formed parts of two separate New York collections. Giacomo Medici's appeal against his conviction failed, while the Rome trial of Marion True and Robert Hecht has continued. Returned objects from the Cleveland Museum of Art went on display in Rome. However the case of the Cleveland Apollo remains unresolved. A new exhibition of returned objects went on display in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome.

The situation with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Miho Museum remains unresolved, though in the former case more information has become available.

Italian authorities recovered frescoes found at Boscoreale: parts were recovered in London and New York.

The AAMD's position on the loan of archaeological material took an interesting twist during the review of the MOU with Italy. Member institutions need to look at the long-term loan of archaeological material where the histories ("provenance") cannot be traced back to the period before 1970.  New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art adopted 1970 as a benchmark for acquisitions. The AAMD's new policy on acquisitions seems to be having an impact on private collectors.

The US issued a MOU with China over the import of archaeological material. China made the headlines over the sale of Chinese antiquities at the Yves Saint Laurent sale in Paris. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the US State Department brought by the ACCG, the IAPN and the PNG came to a significiant conclusion.

It also appears that the market is still nervous about the acquisition of antiquities. A fuller analysis is in preparation.

Long-standing issues over cultural property have been discussed with the opening of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. Zahi Hawass has also been renewing calls for the return of the Rosetta Stone.

Other stories included the statements following the reported arrest of a Swiss-based dealer in Sofia, Bulgaria, after the issuing of an arrest warrant by Egyptian authorities. A head of Asklepios stolen from the Butrint Museum was returned to Albania. A bronze rider found in Cambridgeshire was sold on the London market and then "redeemed" by public money. The UCL report on the incantation bowls became widely available. Egypt was successful in its bid to recover paintings from a Theban tomb (TT15) that had been acquired by the Louvre in Paris.

2009 saw the launch of the Journal of Art Crime. Looting Matters has a regular column.

Finally Looting Matters has been working with PR Newswire to bring key stories to a wider readership ... though it did not use advertising on London buses.


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The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

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Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

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The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.



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