I heard it for myself at CPAC hearings concerning the MOU with Italy. Here was the deal as spun by the allies of the Italian Cultural Bureaucracy and the State Department Cultural Heritage Center in the Archaeological Institute of America and related groups: American collectors and museums would no longer be able to import unprovenanced artifacts. In return, the Italian Cultural Bureaucracy would allow long term loans of artifacts to American museums.
But what is the reality? Loans in fact only go to US Government institutions like the National Gallery of Art and museums that have repatriated artifacts. The good stuff only gets displayed here in the US for a short time and with substantial fees attached. And now, even this "cultural exchange" is in jeopardy as Sicily has decided to ban loans of important pieces from its own museums.
While I sympathize with Sicily and think it should get top dollar for loans, this turn of events again shows the MOU with Italy is a fraud. It is surely time for it to be scrapped. Really, what's wrong with Americans being able to import the same types of Italian artifacts collectors in Europe and indeed Italy itself have always been able to enjoy?