Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Antiquities Dealer Hecht's Italian Trial Comes to an End

The trial of the American antiquities dealer Robert Hecht has dragged on for six years and was a watershed event which has helped to alter collecting practices at American museums. Following the indictment, many museums adopted policies that banned the purchase of ancient artefacts whose provenance was not clear. Hecht was being tried for allegedly receiving artefacts obtained by illegal excavation in Italy and conspiring to deal in them. Italian prosecutors had also charged Marion True, the former curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, along with Mr. Hecht. The 92-year old's courtroom drama however ended this week in Rome when a three-judge panel ruled that the statute of limitations on his alleged crimes - like that of True in October 2010 - had expired. The trial had began in November 2005. Another co-defendant, antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, has been convicted for his role in the alleged conspiracy.
The judges did not express an opinion on [Hecht's] culpability or innocence. But they ruled that a series of objects that had been confiscated from Mr. Hecht’s homes should return to their “rightful owner,” which was identified as the Italian state.

Elisabetta Povoledo, 'Italian Trial of American Antiquities Dealer Comes to an End', New York Times 18th jan 2012.

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