Monday 5 April 2010

Former ambassador to Italy to join Getty board

It is being reported that Ronald Spogli, former U.S. ambassador to Italy during President George W. Bush's second term, will join the Getty board of trustees at its next meeting this summer. He represented the U.S. in Italy. He left Italy "with a much deeper understanding of that country's cultural, legal, and political system". Spogli is the third new trustee to join the 15-member Getty board in two years. As we all know, in recent years the Getty has been negotiating somewhat with Italian authorities, as a result of which they agreed to return 40 prized ancient artifacts that Italian authorities had shown there were grounds to believe that they had been illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country.
"The Getty’s former antiquities curator remains mired in a criminal trial in Rome on charges that she trafficked in looted artifacts. An observer of the Getty board said the organization could have saved itself a lot of headaches in recent years if it had recruited someone with similar expertise for its board of trustees".
No, it does not need anybody with diplomatic expertise on the Board to avoid buying illicitly obtained antiquities. As in any antiquity purchase these days, it requires people with the will to enquire where a piece has come from and to say "no" when that information is not satisfactory to verify legitimate provenance. It requires people on the staff and board with a conscience and conscientiousness.

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