Intolerance: Disputed Artefacts To Return to Italy

New York's 'Metropolitan Museum of Art' may return disputed antiquities to Italy by early 2007 under a deal meant to resolve Italy's claims to some of 'The Met's' most prized artefacts, an Italian official said on 2005-12-02. The culture ministry official said that as part of the possible agreement, which is still being worked out and requires approval by 'The Met's' board, Italy would in exchange lend objects of equal value to the museum on a rotating basis. The compromise was discussed at a meeting between Italian officials and 'The Met's' director, Mr.Philippe de Montebello, in Rome last week.
'I think we can reach an accord fairly rapidly,' said Mr.Giuseppe Proietti, head of the research and innovation department at Italy's culture ministry.
The dispute with 'The Met' involves more than 20 objects which Italy says were stolen or illegally excavated within its borders. Rome is particularly keen to recover 'The Euphronios Krater', a 2_500-year-old Greek vase regarded as one of the most prized treasures in 'The Met's' collection, and a set of 15 silver pieces from the third century B.C. Asked when the disputed antiquities might return to Italy, Mr.Proietti said:
'We talked about late 2006 or early 2007.'
Mr.Proietti said 'The Metropolitan' wanted to see the evidence supporting Italy's claims, but that did not mean that it disputed them. He described the Rome meeting as cordial. Last month the former curator of another respected US American art institution, 'The J. Paul Getty Museum' in Los Angeles, appeared before a Rome court to face charges of knowingly acquiring stolen artefacts. A few days earlier, 'The Getty' had returned three disputed art works to Italy. The trial has put the spotlight on the shady side of the global art business. Experts say international trade in stolen antiquities is worth billions of dollars every year and that the buying practices of many museums, particularly in the United States of America, are questionable. Both 'The Euphronios Krater' and the silver pieces were sold to 'The Met' by Paris-based art dealer Emanuel Robert Hecht, the co-defendant in the trial of former 'Getty' curator Ms.Marion True. Mr.Proietti said that the evidence in the hands of Italian investigators suggested that 'The Met' had 'acted in good faith'. 'Italy says New York Met may return disputed art', Yahoo!UKNews, 2005-12-02,01:40 PM Fr


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