The New York Times catches up on the Getty’s battle with the Italian government with this backgrounder:
Italy has campaigned aggressively in recent years against foreign collectors, both individuals and institutions, that it argues have purchased artifacts with questionable provenances. In 2006 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York reached an accord with Italy over the return of artifacts with an uncertain past, and deals with museums in Boston; Princeton, N.J.; and Cleveland followed.
The campaign seems to be paying off in other ways too, said Gen. Giovanni Nistri, the leader of the Carabinieri’s specialized art theft squad. Speaking at a news conference in Rome on Thursday, General Nistri said that 2009 “saw a notable decrease in tomb raiding.”
Even so, he added, last year investigators recovered nearly 40,000 archaeological artifacts, mostly coins, many of them being offered for sale on the Internet.
Greater global awareness about the looting of archaeologically rich countries has also helped spur international cooperation, and Italian investigators on Thursday singled out United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York for their assistance in recovering several artifacts, tracked down before they could be sold at auction.
Two of those objects — a first-century fresco from a Roman villa in the city of Boscoreale, which was stolen from a warehouse in Pompeii, and a Corinthian krater that a Japanese museum had put up for auction at Christie’s in New York — were presented at the news conference. They were returned to Italy last year, as were more than 100 artifacts confiscated by the Swiss government from a Zurich man best known for having restored the 2,500-year-old Euphronios krater, which was once the centerpiece of the Met’s antiquities collection. That piece, which the Met bought in 1972, was formally returned to Italy in 2008; although Euphronios was Greek, Italian experts argued that most of his known works had been unearthed in Etruscan tombs near Rome.
Italy Presses It’s Fight for a Statue at the Getty (New York Times)