After seeming to pull the plug on a show at the Cleveland Museum of Art meant to highlight Sicily's magnificent ancient past, Sicilian cultural officials have now suggested that the show in Cleveland might actually go on if an adequate price might be worked out between the parties. While this might have been somewhat more palatable had the issue been brought up well in advance, all this sounds a bit too much like an effort at extortion at this late date.
Perhaps in an era where cultural authorities are facing lean budgets, Sicilian cultural officials can and should ask top dollar to send treasures like the so-called Charioteer of Motya abroad. But if so, the US should also scrap its MOU with Italy. At bottom, that MOU is predicated on the idea of sacrificing the financial interests of American collectors, dealers and museums ---all in the name of cultural exchange unsullied by monetary considerations of the sort Sicily now evidently demands.