Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Italy's Culture Cops Cash in on Looted Art

Remember those high minded claims that Italy would voluntarily share its cultural wealth with American museum-goers in return for a MOU that would drastically limit the ability of American citizens to legally import art sourced to that country?

That was 2001.  Fast forward to 2014.  Now, educational "long term museum loans" have instead devolved into an ostentatious self-promotional for-profit display entitled, "Treasures and Tales of Italy's Guardia di Finanzia Art Recovery Team." 

According to a promo,

Priceless antiquities. Ruthless grave robbers. High-tech counterfeits. International smuggling routes that run from the necropolises of Tarquinia, Italy to the posh auction houses of London, England, from the seedy underbelly of the black market to world-renown museums.
Ripped from the case files of the Guardia di Finanza, stories like these will be told during “Treasures and Tales of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza Art Recovery Team,” a groundbreaking exhibition of priceless works of Etruscan and Greco-Roman art and craftsmanship, on display at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware from Oct. 3-Dec. 21.

Each ancient ceramic, mosaic and statue tells a story, not just of the time of its creation, but also of its theft and recovery by the indefatigable agents of the Gruppo Tutela Patrimonio Archeologico, the art recovery team inside the Guardia di Finanza.
These artifacts may be "priceless," but they may nonetheless be seen for $15, the cost of admission. 

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