- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The J. Paul Getty Trust has concluded that it bought 350 ancient artifacts from dealers suspected or convicted of trading in looted artifacts, but it has not informed Italian authorities contesting the trust’s ownership of dozens of other items, a newspaper reported.

The internal review last year found that the 350 items in the Getty’s antiquities collection, including Greek, Roman and Etruscan artifacts, were valued at about $100 million, the Los Angeles Times reported for yesterday’s editions.

The review did not determine whether any of the objects was purchased illegally and concluded that most of the items likely would not have to be returned to their countries of origin.

Maurizio Fiorilli, the lead negotiator for Italy’s Ministry of Culture in the dispute with the trust over 52 vases, urns, statues and other objects, was surprised when told by the Times of the report’s findings.

“They have not spoken about these,” he said, adding that the Getty’s failure to disclose the latest findings raise questions about the organization’s sincerity. Negotiations were set to resume today in Rome over the status of the items that Italian authorities contend were excavated and exported illegally.

The Getty declined to discuss the review.

“During our meeting with the Italian government in January, both sides agreed we would limit our public comments with the media to a joint statement,” Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig said. “We have tried diligently to abide by that agreement, and therefore we have no further comment.”

Italian authorities also have identified 15 other items in the trust’s collection they think were looted and should be returned.

Although the Getty review does not identify the dealers who sold the 350 objects, other records obtained by the Times indicate that some were sold by Giacomo Medici and Robert Hecht, who are co-defendants of the Getty’s former antiquities curator, Marion True.

Mr. True is on trial in Rome on charges of conspiring with dealers to traffic in looted artifacts. Medici was convicted last year and is appealing the verdict.

The stakes are high for the Getty. The 52 disputed items have a value of $48 million, and many are prominently displayed at the newly renovated Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, which is dedicated to ancient art.

A similar dispute with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was resolved in February when the museum agreed to return 21 contested pieces. Italy, in exchange, agreed to lend the museum objects of comparable importance.

The agreement has been seen as a blueprint for settling similar disputes, including the Getty’s.

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