Why Italy should sell the 5,000 antiquities recovered by the police
Improperly excavated artefacts could be auctioned to help cash-strapped museums
By Anna Somers Cocks. Comment, Issue 266, March 2015
Published online: 25 March 2015
Congratulations to the Comando Carabinieri for the protection of cultural heritage for their great work in tracking down years’ worth of illicit trade in antiquities out of Italy. Their evidence has proved that museums, particularly in the US, were making a fool of the law and buying works that had been both dug up and exported illegally.
prosecution (without verdict) of former Getty curator Marian True, and the items that have had to be restituted by museums to Italy because the case against them was embarrassingly secure, have led to a more civilised, ethical policy being adopted by most institutions, which will no longer buy or accept as gifts items that lack a documented provenance dating back before 1970 (the date of the Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property