The Italian Almanac

Getty museum

Italian News - September 26

Lawyers for the J. Paul Getty Museum have determined that half the masterpieces in its antiquities collection were bought from dealers suspected of selling artifacts embezzled from Italy. Getty officials knew as early as 1985 that several of their suppliers were selling artworks that probably had been looted, but the museum continued the acquisitions, according to hundreds of documents.

Italian authorities are demanding the return of 42 objects in the Getty collection they believe were stolen, including ancient urns, vases and a 5-foot marble statue of the Greek god Apollo. Getty's attorneys found that the museum had bought 82 artworks from dealers and galleries under investigation by Italian officials, including 54 of the 104 ancient artworks that the Getty identified as masterpieces.

Getty antiquities curator Marion True and antiquities dealers Giacomo Medici and Robert E. Hecht Jr. have been charged by Italian authorities with conspiring to traffic in looted antiquities. Medici, who was convicted last year and sentenced to 10 years in prison, remains free during his appeal. The trial for True and Hecht will resume in November in Rome. All three have denied the charges.