Tuesday 12 September 2023

Edoardo Almagià, Antiquities and Princeton

Edoardo Almagià ’73 ‘got away’ with trafficking looted Italian antiquities for decades, says the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Now the Princeton University Art Museum and other museums are facing scrutiny for being homes to his artifacts (Rachel Axon, 'Raider of the Lost Art', Princeton Alumni Weekly September 12, 2023). The antiquities that he handled:
"were often purchased, Almagià says, in open markets, a common practice when he started as an art dealer in the 1980s. Where they came from and how they got there, Almagià says he didn’t ask.

[...] From his base in New York, Almagià found eager buyers. In receptions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, he met collectors and museum curators who would purchase the antiquities for a few hundred or few thousand dollars. His network grew and eventually antiquities sold, loaned, or donated by Almagià appeared in museums across the United States.

Now, though, hundreds of his items have been returned to Italy and Almagià is the target of an ongoing investigation. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, working with the Italian government, has executed search warrants across the United States over the past two years in the homes of private collectors, in galleries, and in museums, including the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM).

Led by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, who heads the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, the office has repatriated more than 200 Almagià antiquities to Italian law enforcement. They’re valued at nearly $7 million."

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