In 2007 Princeton University Art Museum agreed to return four antiquities to Italy, and hold four others on loan for four years. This came during a wave of negotiated returns from American museums like the MFA Boston, the Met, the Getty, and others.
Now the N.Y. Times is reporting that Italian prosecutors are focusing on Michael Padgett, an antiquities curator at Princeton University along with Edoardo Almagià, an antiquities dealer.
It should come as no surprise that Italian authorities are investigating Almagià, as ICE agents seized “archaeological material” from his apartment in 2006. More surprising perhaps are the charges brought against Padgett, the curator at Princeton. Charges were brought against Marion True, a curator at the Getty, whose trial has been slowly progressing for the last five years. There were indications or perhaps only assumptions that she would be the lone curator charged.
This should be an interesting investigation to watch develop. The True investigation has certainly had a dramatic impact on the antiquities trade.
From a practical matter, I wonder what was contained in the settlement agreements with Italy and these museums. Was there no discussion of immunity for curators who may have acquired some of these objects which are being returned?
- Hugh Eakin, Italy Focuses on a Princeton Curator in an Antiquities Investigation, The New York Times, June 2, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/arts/design/03curator.html?pagewanted=all (last visited Jun 3, 2010).