Museum Security Network

Looting Matters: Will Those Involved in the Medici Conspiracy Face Trial?

Posted : Fri, 24 Jul 2009 16:01:49 GMT

Author : Looting Matters

SWANSEA, Wales, July 24 /PRNewswire/ — David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on the news that Giacomo Medici has lost his appeal in the Italian courts.

The Geneva-based antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici has been the focus of attention since police raids on his Geneva warehouse in the Freeport back in the mid 1990s. Objects seized from the facility shed light on a well-beaten track between looted archaeological sites in Italy and dealers in northern Europe. The paper trail also pointed to London where newly surfaced antiquities frequently entered the public market.

Other documentation including photographs helped investigators to track down specific antiquities that had passed through Medici’s hands. The large number of antiquities that have been returned to Italy from North American museums bear witness to the impact of the Medici dossier.

Medici had appealed against his conviction for his part in the handling of cultural property. This appeal has now failed though his sentence has been reduced to 8 years.

Paperwork has demonstrated that Medici was not acting alone. There was a network of tombaroli who picked over archaeological sites, middlemen who passed the finds upwards, and those who were responsible for removing the objects from Italian territory. Once in Switzerland the objects were conserved, studied, described and presented to potential buyers.

Medici was not the only Italian national who was handling antiquities that were passing through Switzerland. And the on-going trial of Robert Hecht and Marion True in Rome continues to provide information about the way antiquities were acquired by major museums in Europe, North America and the Far East.

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