What should we do with "our" antiquities?
November 21, 2011
In the latest issue of the Art Newspaper, Erica Cooke asks on behalf of the museums and collectors, “What should we do with “our” antiquities?” The question is posed on the five-year anniversary of the commencement of Marion True trial in Rome. To remind the readers, True, the former antiquties curator of the Getty museum was accused of conspiracy to receive illegally excavated antiquities. The trial ended last year, discharged as untimely. In 2010, another legal matter emerged into the dealings of Michael Padgett, curator of ancient art at Princeton University Art Museum, and the formerly New York-based Italian antiquities dealer Edoardo Almagià. (For comments on the Princeton situation, consult Looting Matters.)
Cooke’s article mentions the discomfort felt by museums for their role in complicity to looting, and gives a nod to the recent publication Chasing Aphrodite by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, quoted as saying: “For the past 40 years, museum officials [in the US] have routinely violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the UNESCO treaty [designed to prevent looting], buying ancient art they knew had been illegally excavated and spirited out of source countries.”
For more from the newspaper about the True case and its aftershocks, read here.